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The ECHR has ruled that Russia violated several rights of Sergei Magnitsky – an auditor who died a decade ago while in pretrial detention. The court said the poor medical treatment he received led to his death.
Sergei Magnitsky (AP)
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that Russia violated the rights of Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor charged with tax evasion while investigating state corruption.
Magnitsky died in pre-trial detention in Moscow in 2009 after complaining of persecution and health problems. His death received international attention and highlighted Russia’s human rights violations, prompting the United States and other countries to pass “Magnitsky’s Actions” targeting Russia accused of violating human rights.
Read more: Are sanctions against Russia successful?
The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Magnitsky’s detention in poor conditions was equal to mistreatment and that Russia had violated his right to life.
“The court found in particular that the medical care given to Mr. Magnitsky in prison was inadequate and had caused his death and that further investigations were still lacking. He was also held in overcrowded conditions and had been treated shortly before he died,” ECHR said.
Watch video 04: 36
EU sanctions on Russia: Who benefits, who loses?
Russia did not give ‘sufficient reason’ for detention
In addition, the court said that Russia had violated the auditor’s right to freedom and security with lengthy pretrial detention and that he was further denied his right to a fair trial in the posthumous process which found him guilty of tax fraud.
“The authorities have reasonable reasons to suspect Magnitsky was involved in tax fraud,” the court said, noting that “investigations of alleged tax evasion that led to Magnitsky’s arrest had begun long before he complained of fraud by officials.”
But the suspicion did not justify his imprisonment for more than one year and “the authorities did not provide sufficient reasons to keep him detained for long periods of time,” seven judges said.
The court ordered Russia to pay compensation for his widow and Magnitsky’s € 34,000 ($ 38,000).
The court ruled that inadequate medical treatment Magnitsky received while detained led to his death
Bill Browder: Governs ‘completely destroy’ the Russian story
Bill Browder, investment fund manager who employs Magnitsky, told DW that the court’s ruling was “a big justification.”
Browder, who has led a campaign to expose corruption in Russia and punish officials who he believes are responsible for the death of auditors, said that the Russian government had tried to “change the narrative” about Magnitsky’s death.
“This unanimous decision by the European Court of Human Rights has completely destroyed the narrative of the Russian government,” Browder said. “Basically it is said that the Russian government killed Magnitsky – and that is a very important court finding.”
Watch video 03: 31
Browder: ‘Great justification for the Magnitsky family’
Magnitsky had worked for Hermitage Capital’s hedge fund when he accused him of finding a $ 230 million tax fraud scheme by Russian officials.
Run by American-born British investor Browder, Hermitage Capital specializes in exposing corruption in the companies it holds in an effort to improve management and reduce the negative impact of corruption on stock prices. Formerly one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, Russia was also able to buy assets at low prices in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Read more: Russia targets Bill Browder in his theory of Magnitsky poisoning
Browder, who had supported President Vladimir Putin, has since become one of Russia’s biggest enemies for the crusade against corruption and lobbied the government to introduce “Magnitsky’s Actions.”
Russia accused him of tax evasion, for which he was sentenced in absentia.