Russian court acquits jail official in Magnitsky case

Russian court acquits jail official in Magnitsky case

Russian court acquits jail official in Magnitsky case

Nataliya Magnitskaya, Magnitsky’s mother is seen in this 2009 photo. AP photo

A Moscow court on Dec. 28 acquitted a former top prison official accused of negligence over the death in detention of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, an incident that sparked a diplomatic scandal with the United States.

Judge Tatiana Neverova of the Tverskoy district court delivered an innocent verdict for Dmitry Kratov, the former deputy head of the Butyrka jail. He had done everything in his power to help Magnitsky, Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.

The decision had been widely expected after prosecutors earlier this week unexpectedly said Kratov should be acquitted as there was no “cause-effect” relationship between his actions and the death. Kratov was the only official remaining as a defendant over the death of Magnitsky, which his supporters say was instigated by top officials after the lawyer discovered a high-level tax scam.

Putin signs adoption bill

Magnitsky’s plight led to the passage of a U.S. law that blacklists Russian officials allegedly involved in the death. In retaliation, Russia introduced a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children. President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 28 signed into law the legislation, which was passed earlier this month by Parliament.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia. The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children.