‘Blasphemous’ Posthumous Trial Against Magnitsky Begins with the Forced Appointment of a State Sanctioned Lawyer to Magnitsky

February 18, 2013

Today at 11 am at the Moscow Tverskoi District Court, a closed preliminary hearing will be held in the posthumous trial of the late whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. At the previous hearing, the judge ordered the appointment of a state sanctioned lawyer to represent and give ‘legal advice’ to Sergei Magnitsky who has been dead for more than three years. The formal purpose of tomorrow’s hearing is for the judge to determine if Magnitsky has been ‘properly notified’ of the trial and if prosecutor has ‘obtained the confirmation of notification in writing’ from Magnitsky.

“The fact that this posthumous trial is going ahead, indicates that justice in Russia is turning into raw and outright blesphamy. The only place where a notice to Sergei Magnitsky can be delivered is to his grave at the Preobrazhenskoye cemetery, and any written confirmation would need to be obtained from his corpse. There is a special place in hell for the people organizing this,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

Sergei Magnitsky’s mother has written to the head of the Moscow Bar Association requesting that all Moscow lawyers boycott any requests from the court to participate in the trial as state appointed lawyers. Article 6 of the Russian law On Attorney Activity and Attorneys states that a lawyer must refuse an instruction if the instruction is clearly against the law and they сannot act against the interests of the client.

“Neither I, nor any of our relatives intend to participate in this act being orchestrated in the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow… Any lawyer asked [by the authorities] to appear at the hearing may not be aware of the circumstances of the case and may not realize the unlawfulness of the posthumous prosecution of my son. However, any lawyer’s presence will allow the court to indicate the absence of violations of the right to defence, and thus through his presence the lawyer will serve as an unwitting accomplice to this crime,” Magnitsky’s mother said in her statement.

“The reopening of a prosecution against my dead son without my consent and without the consent of other close relatives and against their will, is contrary to the aims and the legal meaning of the judgement of the Russian Constitutional Court… It distorts its legal purpose, violates the constitutional rights of my son, and especially in light of recent international events, is politically motivated,” said the mother of Sergei Magnitsky.

“With the help of my son, crimes of persons occupying high positions in government were exposed, and because of these crimes, those officials have become enormously rich. These individuals, especially at the present time, are interested to compromise my son. With this purpose, they have organized this posthumous prosecution in order to obtain a knowingly unjust judgment and posthumously defame the honest name of my son,” said Natalia Magnitsky.

Russian legislation does not stipulate any possibility to appoint a lawyer to a dead person.

At the previous hearing on 28 January 2013, Judge Igor Alisov ordered the state to appoint a lawyer to Sergei Magnitsky against the will of his relatives. The instruction was sent to the 5th Chamber of the Moscow Bar.

“This is similar to the Stalin purges of 1937 where victims were obliged to sign that they have read their accusation before they were executed by decisions of the ‘troikas'”, – said a Hermitage Capital representative.

Earlier, the same judge Igor Alisov refused to consider the complaint from Magnitsky’s mother against the posthumous prosecution of her son. The same judge was also responsible in March 2011 for formally exonerating all Russian officials involved in the theft of $230 million which Sergei Magnitsky exposed. Through his judgement sentencing a jobless ex-convict Vyacheslav Khlebnikov for that crime, he accepted that the Russian tax officials were ‘tricked’ into giving him the enormous tax refunds and formally released them from responsibility.


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