ECHR Court Finds Multiple Convention Violations by Russia in the Magnitsky Case

August 27, 2019


For Immediate Distribution

ECHR Court Finds Multiple Convention Violations by Russia in the Magnitsky Case


27 August 2019 – Today, the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECHR’) issued an award to the Magnitsky family, having found multiple violations of the Human Rights Convention by the Russian state.


The Magnitsky family has had to wait for this decision for ten years after the loss of their son, husband and father. In the meantime, the Russian government has lied at every domestic and international forum about the circumstances of the detention and death of Sergei Magnitsky, and attempted to defame his name and belittle his courage and his sacrifice in uncovering and testifying about the largest publicly known corruption and fraud by Russian officials and criminals. Most notably, immediately after Sergei Magnitsky died in custody, the Russian government claimed that there were ‘no signs of violence’ on his body, despite visible injuries seen by his family at the funeral. When the family obtained state autopsy photos showing obvious injuries, the Russian government claimed that Sergei ’caused his own injuries’  — this is despite Russian state experts finding his injuries to be consistent with the use of rubber batons. The Russian authorities repeated this absurd and cynical explanation to the European Court of Human Rights, who has now fully rejected it,” said William Browder, leader of the Global Magnitsky Justice movement.


The court has found that the Russian state violated Article 2 (Right to life); Article 3 (Prohibition of torture and degrading treatment); Article 5 (Right to liberty); and Article 6 (Right to fair trial) and ordered a compensation of €34,000.


The original complaint to the ECHR had been filed by Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 — several months before he was killed in custody at the age of 37. After Sergei’s death, his widow took over the case. In 2012, Sergei’s mother, Natalia Magnitskaya, applied to the ECHR with an expanded complaint, submitting information available at the time about Sergei’s arrest, detention, death and the subsequent failure by Russian authorities to conduct a proper investigation and bring to justice those involved in the fraud Sergei had uncovered and in his subsequent persecution.


In December 2014, the European court had listed the Magnitsky complaint as a priority case, and sought a response from the Russian government.


In March 2015, the Russian government replied to the court, failing to address the conflict of interest of police officers who were exposed by Magnitsky for their role in the fraud against his client, Hermitage, and were then involved in his retaliatory arrest and detention on fabricated evidence.


The Russian government failed to address the witness evidence that in the last moments of his life Sergei Magnitsky had in fact repeated his accusation of police officers’ embezzling millions in funds, and demanded to see his lawyer and prosecutor to protect himself, before he was found dead in an isolation cell by civilian doctors, who had been kept outside and not allowed to enter the detention center for more than an hour.


The Russian government admitted that handcuffs had been applied to Sergei Magnitsky in the last hour before his death, at the time when he was experiencing severe pain and had been ordered to be moved to a prison hospital for urgent medical treatment. The Russian government purported to explain Sergei’s injuries by ‘the need to stop his [Sergei’s] unlawful actions’, his alleged ‘obstruction of demands from detention center officials’, and alleged ‘attempts to cause harm to himself and others’ and ‘inadequate conduct’, and claimed to the court that Sergei Magnitsky caused his own injuries.


The Russian government sought to explain away the last Magnitsky’s statements recorded in custody that he was about to be killed — which were heard by multiple eyewitnesses — as his ‘hallucinations.’


In respect of conditions of Sergei’s detention, the Russian authorities claimed to the court that key detention records were destroyed despite the repeated requests from the Magnitsky family to preserve evidence.


The Russian state also failed to explain the U-turn by Russian state prosecutors who within four days of President Putin’s public statement that Sergei Magnitsky did not die of torture, but from “natural” causes, dropped charges and asked for the acquittal of a single detention official brought to trial in Magnitsky case.


The Russian government also failed to address the fact that three years after Magnitsky’s death, the same investigators who were responsible for his arrest and persecution, were appointed to the posthumous case against him, and tried to intimidate Magnitsky relatives with summonses and appointment of state lawyer in an attempt to try them in their son’s and husband’s stead — in the first ever posthumous proceeding in modern Russian history.


Sergei Magnitsky was killed on 16 November 2009. The Russian government promoted and gave state honors to those involved in his persecution. Russian officials who were shown to have benefited from the largest known fraud in modern Russian history and kept foreign accounts and foreign properties – were exonerated and not brought to justice.


In 2012, the US Congress passed legislation, known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which imposes visa bans and asset freezes on those involved in the Magnitsky case. Since then, similar legislation has been passed in five more countries, including the UK, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Investigations into the money laundering of funds from the criminal conspiracy uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky are ongoing in multiple countries.


In 2018, the US government obtained over US$6 million in settlement from the family of Russian government official who was identified by the US Department of Justice as one of the beneficiaries of the $230 Million fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.


For further details, please contact:


Magnitsky Justice Campaign

Phone: +44 207 440 1777





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