Arraigning a corpse


Russia is desperate to discredit the campaign, so the state has put Browder on trial in absentia and placed the ghost of Magnitsky beside him in the dock. It charges them with committing the very fraud they exposed.

Magnitsky will not be able to understand the proceedings or speak in his defence, for reasons which should be obvious. As a spokesman for Hermitage said, the trial is a desecration. ‘The only place where a notice to Sergei Magnitsky can be delivered is to his grave at the Preobrazhenskoye cemetery, and any written confirmation would need to be obtained from his corpse. There is a special place in hell for the people organizing this.’ Magnitsky’s mother’s has begged Russian lawyers not to appear, but the court has found lawyers willing to participate in a show trial of a murdered member of their own profession.

I would reach for the obvious comparison with Stalin and Vyshinsky. But to be fair to the men who presided over some of the greatest crimes in human history, they never prosecuted cadavers.

Russian lawyers and judges seem uniquely disgraceful but let us not rush to judgement just yet.

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