Human Rights, In Focus

The trial of Sergei Magnitsky

On the 16th of November 2009 the Russian lawyer died in prison having spent eleven months in police custody without being formally charged, having been tortured and denied medical assistance.

Without a formal accusation which would make clear the motive of his imprisonment, it seems that the Russian authorities have claimed tax evasion as the reason for detaining Sergei Magnitsky, who before going to prison had named a network of corrupt police officers who he alleged had embezzled state funds for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Human Rights defence activists in Russia maintain that the Russian Security Forces arrested him and subsequently denied him any medical assistance in order to put to bed his exposure of police corruption. The documentary ‘Justice for Sergei’ tells the harrowing story of his case and analyses the trend of corruption, brutality and a lack of transparency that underlines the current Russian legal system.

Made one year after the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the tape will be shown by the Frontline Club in London on March 14th, 2011 and the showing will be followed by a short talk with the director Martin Maat, from Holland. The documentary picks up on and explores the opinions of family members and the employees and officials who took part in the trial against Magnitsky to try to shed light on the true story of his imprisonment and subsequent death. The documentary ‘Justice for Sergei’ highlights the underlying current of corruption, brutality and a lack of transparency of the Russian legal system today. In his intense commitment to denouncing these issues, his death is a shocking reminder of the political oppression that still exists in Dmitry Medvedev’s Russia.

Cases such as those of Magnitsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former CEO of Yukos Oil sentenced to eight years in prison in 2005 along with his partner Platon Lebedev for tax evasion and other crimes, have recently been reviewed by the European Parliament by way of a resolution that warns of the growing politicization of the Russian judicial system.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, the first of whom was the wealthiest man in Russia before the first judicial proceeding started, were sentenced to 14 years in prison last December for embezzlement and money laundering.  This was following a second proceeding against the ex-managers of the Russian petroleum company that had lasted 22 months.

Date and Location: March 14th, 2011 7.00pm at Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London, W2 1QJ

(Translated by Emily Russell – Email:

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