MOSCOW, September 4 (RAPSI) - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has urged Russian authorities to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Hermitage Capital Fund auditor Sergei Magnitsky, PACE announced Wednesday.
The committee approved a report Wednesday entitled, “Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky.”
PACE announced that Rapporteur Andreas Gross, who prepared the report approved by the Committee Wednesday, said he would propose that the report should be debated by the Plenary Assembly in January 2014.
Measures reminiscent of those enshrined in the controversial US Magnitsky Act were noted in the report’s draft resolutions.
On Dec. 6, 2012, the US Senate approved the Magnitsky Act, to severe criticism from the Russian State Duma, stipulating visa sanctions for Russians who are believed by US authorities to have been involved in human rights violations. The Magnitsky List, which was published in part on April 12, includes the names of 18 Russian officials who are barred from travelling to the United States.
The report stated in a draft resolution: “Regarding the imposition by the United States of targeted sanctions against individuals (visa bans and account freezes, cf. paragraph 11), as well as corresponding European Parliament Resolutions and the above-mentioned law adopted by the Russian State Duma, the Assembly considers these as a means of last resort.”
Magnitsky, an auditor at the London-based Hermitage Capital investment fund, was arrested on November 24, 2008, on suspicion of having masterminded large-scale corporate tax evasion. He died while in pretrial detention on November 16, 2009, after spending a year behind bars.
According to the Prosecutor General's Office, Magnitsky died of heart failure. Magnitsky's death evoked an international outcry, triggered amendments to the Criminal Code and a reshuffling of officials in the penal system.
Hermitage Capital maintains that it paid 5.4 billion rubles ($180 million) in taxes, but the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials.
Magnitsky was prosecuted for this theft. The case was closed after his death, only to be reopened later. Under Russian law, a person can be prosecuted after their death. In July, Magnitsky was convicted by Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court of tax evation.
The head of the PACE Russian delegation Alexey Pushkov in June told RIA Novosti that Russia does not support a report in this case, or a resolution on it. Earlier, in April, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the case of Magnitsky's death had ended, and no criminal negligence had occurred.