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Moscow Court rules to recover $1,600 from Hermitage Capital in Magnitsky libel lawsuit

March 10, 2015, 13:58 UTC+3
The court thus recognized as untrue the information distributed by the defendants on the ex-investigator’s part in Magnitsky’s death
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MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. A Moscow District Court ruled on Tuesday to recover 100,000 rubles ($1,600) in a defamation lawsuit filed by former Russian Interior Ministry investigator Pavel Karpov against the UK-based investment fund Hermitage Capital and colleagues of the fund’s ex-lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The court thus recognized as untrue the information distributed by the defendants on the ex-investigator’s part in Magnitsky’s death.

The court ruled to recover 25,000 rubles ($416) from each defendant. The defendants in the case are the UK-based investment fund Hermitage Capital, Hermitage Capital Limited, Hermitage Capital Head William Browder and also Jamison Firestone, managing partner of the auditing firm Firestone Duncan. The court also obliged the defendants to retract defamatory information. Under the law, the court ruling will come into force in 30 days, unless it is appealed against.

The court heard the case in the absence of the defendants who had not appeared at court.

The ex-investigator asked the court to oblige the defendants to refute the information that he had allegedly played a part in Magnitsky’s death and recover over 6 billion rubles (about $100 million) in moral damage.

In substantiation of this sum, the ex-investigator presented the data of an independent auditing firm on the number of defamation campaigning website visits and the distribution of information he considered as defamatory.

The ex-investigator asked the court to recover 100 rubles ($1.6) from the defendants for each defamatory campaigning website visit, bringing the total sum of the claim to 6.164 billion rubles.

The ex-investigator said during the court hearings he had questioned Magnitsky as part of the Kameya firm case when the Hermitage Capital lawyer had not yet faced criminal charges.

"While investigating this case, I questioned Magnitsky once as a witness. He was not a suspect at that moment and was not detained," the investigator said.

The court passed its ruling as part of a repeat examination of the ex-investigator’s case. Earlier, a Russian court ruled that Karpov’s claim was unsubstantiated but the Moscow City Court repealed this decision and sent the case for a review.

Magnitsky died in 2009 at the age of 37 in a Moscow pre-detention center where he faced the charges of tax evasion. According to the investigation, Magnitsky died because he was not timely assigned appropriate medical treatment and adequate therapy when his health deteriorated sharply.

Moscow’s Tverskoy court ruled on July 11, 2013 that Hermitage Capital Head Browder and auditor Magnitsky were guilty of tax evasion worth a total of 522 billion rubles ($8.7 billion at the current exchange rate).

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