Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russia Drops Case against Doctor over Prison Death

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russia Drops Case against Doctor over Prison Death

Article excerpt

Russian officials have quietly ruled that the statute of limitations has run out in the case of a former prison doctor charged in the death of a lawyer working for an international investment fund.

Russian investigators have dropped a case against a former prison doctor who was one of only two people to face charges in the death of a 37-year-old lawyer whose arrest and maltreatment underscored the selective and sometimes brutal nature of the Russian justice system.

The doctor, Larisa A. Litvinova, had been charged with professional negligence for failing to administer appropriate medical care to the lawyer, Sergei L. Magnitsky, in the weeks before his death in November 2009.

But the top Russian investigative agency quietly ruled last week that the statute of limitations had run out in the case, according to a copy of the ruling made available Sunday to The New York Times by Mr. Magnitsky's former employer, Hermitage Capital Management, an investment fund based in London.

The decision was the latest twist in a case that has shown little movement toward resolution despite an outcry in Russia and abroad. The United States has barred dozens of officials suspected of involvement in Mr. Magnitsky's prosecution from entering the United States, a move several European countries are considering.

Dr. Litvinova, a physician at the Butyrskaya Prison responsible for overseeing Mr. Magnitsky's medical care in the weeks before his death, was one of two people charged in the case. The other, Dmitri Kratov, formerly the chief medical official at the prison, faces stiffer charges with a longer statute of limitations.

After Mr. Magnitsky's death, it took investigators more than a year and a half to bring the charges. Before that, they had insisted that Mr. Magnitsky had died of natural causes and had not complained of any ailments before his death.

But an investigation by an independent prisons monitoring group, the Public Oversight Commission, found that investigators had pressed doctors, including Dr. …

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