Dead Russian lawyer convicted of tax evasion

A Moscow court has convicted dead lawyer Sergei Magnitsky of tax evasion, concluding a posthumous trial in a case that strained U.S.-Russian ties.

Magnitsky, in his work with Hermitage Capital Management, the largest Western investment firm operating in Russia, accused Russian law enforcement and tax officials of taking part in a scheme by which they fraudulently received refunds for taxes that Hermitage paid in Russia, totaling $230 million.

Magnitsky was subsequently arrested on the tax evasion charges. He died in prison in 2009 at age 37, after being detained for nearly a year and saying he was denied medical attention.

In 2011, an investigation by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s human rights council found that Magnitsky, who had pancreatitis, had been “completely deprived” of medical care before his death. It added there was “reasonable suspicion” to believe Magnitsky’s death was triggered by a beating.

The case became a symbol of alleged prison abuse in modern Russian and led to a fresh dispute between Moscow and Washington.

The U.S. enacted the Magnitsky Act, imposing a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin then quickly signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

A report by Hermitage founder William Browder claimed Magnitsky died about an hour after being beaten by prison guards.

Browder was also convicted Thursday in absentia of tax evasion.