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Magnitsky's Relatives, Their Lawyers Notified of Re-opened Criminal Inquiry - Source

MOSCOW. Aug 16 (Interfax) - The relatives of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in custody, as well as their lawyers have been formally notified about the re-opening of the criminal inquiry into tax evasion, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax.

"Notifications about the re-opening of the criminal case against Magnitsky, charged with tax evasion, have been officially mailed to both relatives and lawyers," the source said.

The concerned party has also been notified by phone, the source said.

It was reported earlier that the defense team of the Magnitsky family is awaiting steps from the investigators probing the tax evasion case.

"The defense will not take the first step or set out its position to the law enforcement authorities on whether the investigation of the tax evasion case against the lawyer should continue. We decided to wait for information from them," Yelena Oreshnikova, lawyer for Magnitsky's wife, told Interfax.

The Russian Interior Ministry's Investigative Department has announced that it is ready to send the Magnitsky case to a court. "Currently, as part of the additional inquiry, the investigator is to find out the opinion of Magnitsky's relatives over the closure of the criminal case against him on the aforesaid grounds. Should they object (to the case closure), the criminal investigation will continue and will later be sent to a court for a comprehensive check and objective assessment of the gathered evidence," the Investigative Department told Interfax.

In the event of the relatives' refusal to have the criminal investigation continued, the investigators, who conducted the preliminary inquiry, will have no legal reasons to believe that the relatives' legitimate interests were violated by the investigators' decision to close the criminal case, and that claims about the violation of Magnitsky's rights to rehabilitation are not due to their intention to restore such rights.

Magnitsky died in the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility on November 16, 2009, at the age of 37. He had been charged with tax evasion.

Magnitsky's death drew broad public response. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on charges of failure to provide assistance to a patient and negligence.

Despite several resignations in the Federal Penitentiary Service, there was no real inquiry into the Magnitsky death, human rights campaigners said.

On July 4, 2011, the Russian Investigative Committee announced the completion of an additional medical examination. As a result, a criminal investigation was opened against two former employees of the Butyrka pre-trial detention facility N2, including the lawyer's former doctor Larisa Litvinova (causing death by recklessness as a result of failure to perform professional duties).

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