On November 16, 2009, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Russian prison. He was jailed for alleged tax evasion, but his mains sins were representing Hermitage Capital’s case against the Russian state and for blowing the whistle against crooked Russian officials. In prison, he was denied medical attention despite repeated requests and died in custody.
Magnitsky case became an international incident. The U.S. State Department has issued a list of Russian officials involved in the case whom are to be denied visas. Russian justice authorities cleared the prosecutor who handled the Magnitsky case and even awarded him a medal. Russian authorities are preparing a list of U.S. officials to be denied visas to Russia.
In a possible Kremlin rift, President Medvedev named a human rights commission to look into the case. They concluded that Magnitsky’s arrest contravened the European Human Rights Convention, the case against him was fabricated and pursued by the same Interior Ministry officials he accused of a $230 million theft from the Russian Treasury, and he was beaten immediately before his death in custody. The Russian interior ministry rejected these findings.
On August 5, the Russian Interior Ministry announced they plan to prosecute Magnitsky for alleged tax evasion, although he has been dead for twenty months. They justified this bizarre action as a humanitarian move to give Magnitsky’s family the satisfaction of a chance to clear his name. This claim was rejected by Magnitsky’s mother, who said: "To put a man on trial after he was killed, when he can no longer defend himself, is an evil and base act. It goes against all human morals, and law."