Russia drops probe into whistleblowing lawyer's death


A close view of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky's portrait with his name and the lifetime below on the lawyer's tomb at the Preobrazhenskoye cemetery in Moscow. Photo - AFP

Moscow: Russian investigators on Tuesday dropped their investigation into the 2009 death in jail of a whistleblowing attorney whose case led to a crisis in relations between Russia and the United States. The investigators said in a statement they had no evidence that Sergei Magnitsky died from custodians' beatings at the age of 37 as his family and former US-born employer Bill Browder claim.

"Based on the preliminary investigation's results, a decision was taken to end the criminal case due to a lack of evidence of a crime," the Investigative Committee said. Magnitsky is currently facing a posthumous trial -- Russia's first -- along with Browder into alleged tax evasion.

The Russian lawyer was jailed shortly after disclosing an alleged $230-million fraud scheme being run by senior tax and law enforcement authorities. An attorney for Magnitsky's mother said he intended to appeal the decision in court.

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