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Russia human rights leader says lawyer was murdered in prison

[JURIST] The chairwoman of Russia's Council for Promoting Civil and Human Rights [official website] on Monday called the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky a murder and a tragedy. Magnitsky, who was arrested on allegations of tax fraud and held for over a year without a trial after representing London-based hedge fund Hermitage Capital [corporate website] in a suit against Russian officials, died [JURIST report] last week in a Moscow prison. Ella Pamfilova met [RFE/RL report] with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev [official profile; JURIST news archive] to discuss the situation, as well as the overall state of affairs for human rights in Russia. Following the meeting, Medvedev ordered [NYT report] a government inquiry into Magnitsky's death. Magnitsky's family and employers have made allegations that on several occasions he was denied medical treatment that could have saved his life.

Pamfilova referenced Magnitsky as the latest in a series of high-profile individuals to die under uncertain circumstances in Russia. Earlier this month, a suspect was arrested for the double murder [JURIST reports] of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova. Markelov had represented famed journalist Anna Politskovskaya [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] who was killed [JURIST report] in 2006. Russia has also received a great deal of criticism for apparently baseless detentions such as Magnitsky's. The expropriation of OAO Yukos Oil Co. [Time backgrounder] and the indictment against and detention of company founder, Mikhail Khordorkovsky [defense website] have provoked the condemnation [JURIST op-ed] of many legal experts abroad.

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