Remembering Sergei Magnitsky

Below is the text of a letter from the law firm Firestone Duncan to clients and staff regarding the death of Sergei Magnitsky (I apologize for the conflicting spellings of his name).

November 18, 2009

Dear clients, partners and friends,

On the night of November 17, 2009 we lost our colleague and friend Sergey Magnitskey. Sergey was 37.

Sergey died in police custody where he had been held almost a year without trial or bail. He was held by a group of police officers who he had testified against; a group of officers who we believe committed a crime against a client and the Russian State.

Sergey died because he would not cooperate with criminals. He wasrepeatedly told that if he gave false testimony against his client hewould be released and he refused. As time went on his captors put himin ever worsening conditions as a means of pressuring him to cooperate.His health deteriorated and after being diagnosed by prison doctors asneeding medication and an operation, the police then increased thepressure on Sergey by denying him medical treatment.

We knew that Sergey was ill and that he was suffering. We did notknow how bad his condition was but we did our best to bring his illegaldetention and his deteriorating condition to the attention of theRussian authorities and we had a lot of help on the way. Despite ourefforts and the efforts of many friends, the Russian authorities didnot act and Sergey died of a condition that could have been cured witha simple operation and medication.

Many of you knew Sergey professionally, some of you had the opportunity to know him on a more personal level.

Sergey was a remarkable man. Honest, decent, kind, and incrediblyknowledgeable. He had faith in Russian law and in Russia. He had aquite strength of character and in the end he maintained his integrityunder impossible conditions.

There is a cry of shock and outrage in the press, both in Russia andabroad, and we shall add our voices to it. Like Sergey we believe thatrule of law is worth fighting for and we shall do our best to see thathis death has some meaning.

On a more personal level, we have lost a great friend; someone weall admired and the kind of person that Russia needs more of. We willmiss him greatly. Sergey is survived by his mother, his wife and histwo children. Their financial needs will be taken care of. It is theleast we can do for our friend.

Firestone Duncan