Committee urges full investigation of Sergei Magnitsky’s death

Strasbourg, 04.09.2013 – A committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has urged the competent Russian authorities to fully investigate the circumstances and background of the death of Russian tax and accountancy expert Sergei Magnitsky, and the possible criminal responsibility of all officials involved in his death.

PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, approving a report today in Paris on “Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky” prepared by Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC), said in a draft resolution that targeted sanctions against individuals involved – such as visa bans and account freezes – should be considered as “a means of last resort”. The committee resolved to follow closely how its recommendations are implemented.

Approving the rapporteur’s detailed analysis of Mr Magnitsky’s death in pre-trial detention in Moscow in 2009, the parliamentarians said they were “appalled” by his death, and by the fact that none of the persons responsible have yet been held to account.

Mr Magnitsky, who had carried out investigations on behalf of a client into a “massive fraud against the Russian fiscal authorities”, spent almost a year in pre-trial detention in increasingly harsh conditions and in deteriorating health, and was beaten with rubber batons on the evening of his death, they said.

The parliamentarians also called for investigation into the procedure followed by the two tax offices involved in the fraud denounced by Mr Magnitsky “in approving reimbursements amounting to the equivalent of US 230 million, within 24 hours of the application”.

They encouraged Russia to persist in fighting corruption at all levels, and commended the work of its Public Oversight Committee as a model of prison oversight for many other Council of Europe member states.

An addendum to the draft report by Mr Gross said further information provided by the Russian authorities since June did not put into question his findings: “My initial conclusion, namely that we are in the presence of a massive cover-up […], finds itself further consolidated.”

The rapporteur said he would propose the report be debated by the plenary Assembly at its January 2014 session.