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UK court throws out libel case against Russia corruption critic

The High Court of England and Wales on Monday dismissed a libel suit against a British financier who has criticized corruption in Russia. Russian police officer Pavel Karpov sued William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Fund [corporate website] after Browder accused Karpov of being involved in a circle of corrupt Russian officials that were allegedly complicit in the death of Browder's former lawyer Sergei Magnitsky [JURIST news archive]. The judge in the case ruled [AP report] that the suit should be dismissed because Karpov only had minor connections with the UK and had no substantial interest in protecting his reputation there. While Browder's lawyers praised the dismissal as a victory against forum shopping, Karpov's lawyers argued [Bloomberg report] that Browder had not presented sufficient evidence to support their allegations of corruption against Russian officials.

In July a Moscow court convicted [JURIST report] Magnitsky and Browder of tax evasion. In February JURIST Guest Contributor David Crane argued [JURIST op-ed] that the prosecution of Magnitsky by the Russian government is an unprecedented violation of rule of law principles. Magnitsky's death and posthumous trial caused a rift in Russia's relationship with the US. Last December US lawmakers passed the Magnitsky Act [text] in the lawyer's name, which allows the US Secretary of the Treasury [official website] to freeze assets, prohibit all transactions and deny visas to Russians implicated in human rights abuses. In possible retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in English; JURIST news archive] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill that prohibits US citizens from adopting Russian children. In February 2012 Crane opined [JURIST op-ed] that the posthumous prosecution of Magnitsy is a mark of shame against the Russian judicial system.

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