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Naming Names on the Murder of Magnitsky

The lawyer Jamison Firestone, a founding partner of Firestone Duncan and former employer of the Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has an article in the Moscow Times pointing out that the firing of 20 prison officials is just a distraction from the real investigation that should be happening.   We should recognize that what Firestone is doing is very brave and very dangerous, and the Kremlin put some actions behind their words on anti-corruption and legal nihilism and actually go after these people implicated in the murder of Magnitsky.

The state of the Russian prison system and the ultimate cause of Magnitsky’s death — ruptured digestive system and heart failure — are just distractions from the main issue that Medvedev should be investigating.

The only issue that really matters in Magnitsky’s case is that a group of corrupt law enforcement officers imprisoned a man who they knew was innocent, and they purposely put him in awful conditions in an attempt to get him to change his story. This is how Magnitsky was killed.

Although prison authorities clearly bear responsibility for allowingtheir law enforcement colleagues to continuously play this game and usetheir institutions as instruments of pressure, they were not the peoplewho were actively persecuting Magnitsky, and they are not the peoplewho should bear the most blame for his illegal arrest and death.Furthermore, they are not even being accused of the real crime –allowing their institutions to be used as instruments of pressure byfellow law enforcement agencies. The 20 prison officials who were firedare simply being accused of negligence, not criminal negligence.