French Prosecutor Makes Public Attempt to Whitewash Corrupt Russian Officials on the Magnitsky List in Ablyazov Extradition Case

October 23, 2014

For Immediate Distribution

French Prosecutor Makes Public Attempt to Whitewash Corrupt Russian Officials on the Magnitsky List in Ablyazov Extradition Case

23 October 2014 – French public prosecutor Christian Ponsard publicly dismissed the death of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Russian police custody as irrelevant to cases of extradition to Russia. He suggested that there was no reason to refuse French legal assistance to Russian officials who were involved in denial of medical care and other violations of human rights in Magnitsky case.

Speaking in Lyon Court at an extradition hearing of Mukhtar Ablyazov last Friday, Prosecutor Ponsard reportedly said that the fact that this case was initiated and investigated by Russian officials sanctioned by the US and placed on the European Parliament’s list should have no bearing on the extradition of Ablyazov.

“According to people present to the hearing, the French prosecutor proposed that it was fine to extradite people into the hands of US-sanctioned and EU Parliament-designated Russian officials responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s false arrest, torture and death,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

The statement made by Ponsard is in direct contradiction to the European Parliament’s findings on the Magnitsky case which said in the resolution adopted on 2 April 2014:

“The arrest and subsequent death in custody of Sergei Magnitsky represent a well-documented and significant case of disrespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Russia, …and serve as a reminder of the many documented shortcomings in respect for the rule of law in Russia.”

The European Parliament’s resolution names 32 Russian officials and private individuals involved in the Magnitsky case (

“It is simply impossible for France, as a member of EU, to ask for justice in Sergei Magnitsky case and then extradite somebody in the hands of exactly the same people who already bear responsibility for complete injustice against Sergei Magnitsky,” said Hermitage Capital representative.

French prosecutor Ponsard was supported in his attempt to whitewash the crimes against Magnitsky by Denis Grunis, head of Russian General Prosecutor’s international cooperation section, who participated in the same extradition hearing.

Russian Prosecutor Denis Grunis said he believed it did not matter that the person who approved a request for Mr Ablyazov’s extradition was Moscow judge Alexei Krivoruchko, the same judge who two months before Magnitsky’s death, on 14 September 2009, refused complaints from Sergei Magnitsky against cruel treatment and denial of medical care and who prolonged his detention.

Mr Krivoruchko has been placed on both US and EU Parliament-designated Magnitsky sanctions lists.

The view of the French public prosecutor is also in contradiction to the conclusions by the 47-member state Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressed in a report “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky” and adopted by overwhelming majority this January (;

Prosecutor Ponsard also ignores an earlier resolution by the same international body which concluded that mutual legal assistance to Russia should not be provided in politically-motivated and abusive criminal cases, highlighting among such cases official attacks on Sergei Magnitsky and other Hermitage lawyers in Russia.

Russian political campaigner and world chess master, Garry Kasparov, who attended the hearing in Lyon, said on his Facebook account:

“[Prosecutor] Ponsard discounts …that seven of the Russian judges and investigators [and others] in the case are on the US sanctions list for the persecution of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption attorney who died horribly in prison… We all know there is no justice in Putin’s Russia. I was very much hoping to see better here in France.”(

The court decision in this proceeding is expected on October 24, 2014, according to French press reports.

For further information please contact:

Hermitage Capital
Phone: +44 207 440 1777
Twitter: @KatieFisher__


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