Killing of Russian Whistle-Blower Magnitsky Brought before European Court of Human Rights

19 October 2012, Open Society Justice Initiative.

The Open Society Justice Initiative has filed a complaint before Europe’s top human rights court on behalf of the mother of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian tax adviser and whistle-blower who died in detention in November, 2009 after exposing high-level official corruption.

The complaint argues that Russian law enforcement authorities manipulated the criminal process to silence and torture her son, ultimately leading to his death in unexplained circumstances, because he revealed a $230m tax fraud involving officials of Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry. Sergei Magnitsky was working at the time for a law firm that represented Hermitage, formerly the largest foreign investment firm working in Russia.

Magnitsky’s mother Natalia is represented by James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Rupert Skilbeck, head of litigation at the Justice Initiative.

Goldston said: “Sergei Magnitsky was wrongly detained and tortured because he unearthed evidence of grand theft at senior levels of the Russian government, then refused to back down. Though Mr. Magnitsky’s courage was unusual, his fate is not. His case shines a spotlight on the corruption and abuse which pervade Russia’s justice system.”

The complaint gives details of how he was held in pretrial detention for almost a year, and denied medical treatment to force him to retract his allegations of corruption and to admit to unsubstantiated charges against him.

Read a summary of the application to the court on our website.

The Open Society’s Public Health Program is actively involved in attempts to improve access to medical services in Russia’s pretrial detention services. The Justice Initiative also spearheads the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice, which seeks to reduce excessive and abusive pretrial detention around the world.