New Investigator in the Magnitsky’s Death Case Refuses to Prosecute Senior Prison Officials

March 29, 2012

Russ­ian author­i­ties have appointed a new inves­ti­ga­tor in the case of the mur­der in police cus­tody of the 37-year old whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Mag­nit­sky. The first deci­sion by the newly appointed inves­ti­ga­tor, Major A. Strizhov of the Russ­ian Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee, was to reject the peti­tion from the Mag­nit­sky fam­ily to inves­ti­gate the role of senior prison offi­cials in tor­tur­ing him.

The decree sent by inves­ti­ga­tor Strizhov this week to the Mag­nit­sky fam­ily says:
“I hereby refuse your peti­tion to exam­ine the actions of the heads of the Moscow Prison Ser­vice …There are no grounds to con­duct sep­a­rate checks regard­ing the heads of the Moscow Prison Service.”

Inves­ti­ga­tor Strizhov refused to bring crim­i­nal charges against senior Moscow prison offi­cials in spite of the doc­u­men­tary evi­dence that they were involved in car­ry­ing out mul­ti­ple trans­fers of Mag­nit­sky between deten­tion cen­ters and reject­ing Magnitsky’s com­plaints against his tor­tur­ous con­di­tions and denial of med­ical treatment.

On 31 August 2009, after not get­ting any reply to the dozens of com­plaints filed with the heads of Butyrka deten­tion cen­tre in Moscow, Sergei Mag­nit­sky addressed his com­plaint to the head of the Moscow Prison Ser­vice Mr Davydov.

On 7 Octo­ber 2009, Gen­eral Davy­dov wrote back stat­ing that “all con­di­tions were fine” (http://russian-untouchables.com/docs/D37.pdf).
Dur­ing his 11 months in deten­tion, Mag­nit­sky was trans­ferred between four deten­tion cen­tres and 21 cells. Accord­ing to a Buturka prison offi­cial, the cells Sergei Mag­nit­sky was placed in at Butyrka deten­tion cen­tre were “objec­tively the worst”.

After Magnitsky’s death, the new head of the Moscow Prison Ser­vice, Mr Dezhurov, stated that Magnitsky’s com­plaints “can’t be found.”

The Mag­nit­sky fam­ily have filed a request with the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee seek­ing to ques­tion the for­mer and cur­rent heads of the Moscow Prison Ser­vice into their role in Magnitsky’s tor­ture in cus­tody and the rea­sons for them to con­ceal Magnitsky’s com­plaints. The fam­ily also asked to allow mem­bers of the President’s Human Rights Coun­cil to attend the inter­ro­ga­tion, as was allowed by the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee last year with Butyrka med­ical offi­cials on family’s request.

How­ever, inves­ti­ga­tor Strizhov rejected all requests stat­ing:
“I hereby reject your peti­tion to carry out inves­tiga­tive actions to deter­mine the loca­tion of Sergei Magnitsky’s com­plaints… There are no grounds to allow out­siders, includ­ing V. Borschev and L. Alex­eeva, to attend the ques­tion­ing of wit­nesses”.
A Her­mitage Cap­i­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tive said:

By reject­ing all Magnitsky’s fam­ily requests and refus­ing to inves­ti­gate the role of the prison ser­vice bosses, Inves­ti­ga­tor Strizhov is clearly cov­er­ing up for high-ranking officials.”

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