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Ex Prison Official on Trial over Magnitsky Death

RIA Novosti

13:55 02/10/2012 MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - A former prison official at the pretrial detention center where Sergei Magnitsky was held created intolerable conditions verging on torture, the mother of the Russian lawyer who died in custody in 2009 while investigating alleged official corruption, said in court on Tuesday.

Dmitry Kratov, former head of the Butyrka detention center, accused of criminal negligence, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.

“I have reason to say that he [Kratov] - with his action and inaction - knowingly created conditions for Sergei that were equivalent to torture,” she said.

“The drugs that I handed over were only given to him [Magnitsky] three weeks later,” she said.

Kratov was involved in the torture and death of her son, she alleged, adding other persons were also implicated, including chief doctor Alexandra Gaus and lead investigator Oleg Silchenko.

Magnitsky was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, just days after accusing police investigators and tax officials of involvement in a $230-million tax refund fraud. He died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

A probe into his death revealed that the lawyer, who was suffering from untreated pancreatitis and a heart condition, did not receive proper medical treatment. Rights activists pointed to multiple violations of the lawyer’s rights during his arrest and detention, including signs that he was beaten by prison guards hours before his death.

In the United States, the Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act with amendments seeks to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials allegedly involved in the torture and death of the 37-year-old Russian anti-corruption lawyer, as well as in other gross human rights abuses in Russia.

The U.S. State Department imposed visa bans in July 2011 on several dozen Russian officials in connection to the Magnitsky case. In response, Russia has imposed travel bans on several U.S. officials.

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