MOSCOW, March 11 (Itar-Tass) – Moscow’s Tverskoi Court on Monday postponed till March 22 hearings on the criminal case against the auditor of the British fund Hermitage Capital Management, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a detention center, and the fund’s director, British subject William Browder, as the defense lawyers proved unprepared.
The court opened hearings on the case in the presence of 50 journalists. Judge Igor Alisov read out a request from the lawyers of Magnitsky and Browder for a postponement by one month, because they had no time to study the case.
The prosecutor and the representative of the plaintiff agreed, but at the same time asked the judge to pay attention to what they claimed was deliberate procrastination by the defense lawyers.
“The court rules the session should be adjourned till March 22. The head of the corresponding body of lawyers was asked to pay attention to the need for observing the deadlines for studying the case,” the judge ruled.
Magnitsky and Browder are accused of evading 522 million rubles of taxes. The investigators say they forged tax declarations and abused benefits established for disabled persons. Also, the Interior Ministry suspects Browder of involvement in the misappropriation of Gazprom shares.
The charges against Magnitsky are considered in absentia, which is permissible under Russian legislation. At the last session the lawyer of Magnitsky’s mother, Nikolai Gorokhov, handed over to the judge the relatives’ official refusal to participate in the trial.
Sergei Magnitsky, accused of complicity in tax evasion, died in an intensive care ward of the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center on November 16, 2009 after spending eleven months in custody and seven days after he faced official charges. The investigators say Magnitsky was denied timely medical treatment despite a sharp worsening of his health.
The criminal case against Magnitsky was closed on November 30, 2009 due to his death. only to be re-opened on August 9, 2011 on orders from the Prosecutor-General’s Office following the Constitutional Court’s ruling of July 14, 2011.
Browder is to be tried in absentia, because, as PGO spokeswoman Marina Gridneva has explained, he has refused to appear before investigators, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of which he is a subject, has refused to cooperate with Russia in the case.