MOSCOW, November 24 - RAPSI. The investigation into the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for Hermitage Capital fund who died two years ago in a Moscow pretrial detention ward, has been extended, the Interior Ministry's investigative department told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

Magnitsky died of cardiovascular insufficiency on November 16, 2009. His death sparked a major public outcry, and resulted in amendments to criminal procedure and a large reshuffling of officials in the penal system.

The criminal case against him was terminated due to his death, but was later resumed by the Prosecutor General's Office. Magnitsky's relatives have demanded that the case against him be dropped.

"Investigation into Magnitsky's case has been extended for the investigators to find out the relatives' attitude towards terminating prosecution against the deceased," the department reported.

According to investigators, Magnitsky and his accomplices stole 5.4 billion rubles ($172 million) from the state by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.

In turn, Hermitage Capital has maintained that the investment fund had paid the 5.4 billion rubles in taxes, but that the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials. Magnitsky's prosecution is attributed to this theft.

Later two of the six individuals, who were under investigation, were sentenced to imprisonment. The others, including Magnistky, died.