British Gov't. Raises Magnitsky Death With Russian Officials

Dec 18 2009 | 12:04pm ET

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said his government is monitoring the case of hedge fund lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died last month in Russian custody.

In a letter to two members of the U.K.’s House of Lords, Brown said he “was deeply concerned to hear of the death” of Magnitsky, who was representing British hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management. Brown wrote that Hermitage founder William Browder, who has been accused by Russian authorities of tax evasion, “remains in close contact with us and we have raised his serious concerns consistently with the Russian authorities.”

Magnitsky, who was also accused of tax evasion in the Hermitage case, died after nearly a year in Russian prisons. He alleged that he was denied adequate medical care for a condition he contracted in prison.

Russian authorities have promised a full investigation. A top prison official admitted that authorities bear some “guilt” in Magnitsky’s death, and 21 people have been fired as a result of it, including the head of the Moscow police tax crimes unit, the head of the Moscow prisons and the head of the jail where Magnitsky had been held.

In the letter, seen by the Daily Telegraph, Brown said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had raised Magnitsky’s case with both his Russian opposite and Russian deputy prime minister before his death at the age of 37.

“He underlined in both meetings the importance of effective and transparent judicial processes and the importance of the rule of law,” Brown wrote.

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