Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > Press > Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Acquittal of Russian Doctor in Magnitsky Case Sparks Disappointment, Not Surprise

Cambridge, MA - 12/28/2012

Today’s acquittal of a Russian doctor implicated in the death of a Russian anti-corruption lawyer is disappointing but not surprising, PHR said today.

At the prosecution’s request, a Russian judge acquitted Dr. Dmitri Kratov, former head of the medical service at Butyrka Prison, of culpability in the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky just before his trial was set to begin. Dr. Kratov had been accused of ignoring Magnitsky’s repeated pleas for medical care. Charges against another doctor had previously been dismissed.

An independent medical investigation by PHR last year concluded that calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment by prison officials, including inadequate medical evaluation and treatment, had ultimately led to Magnitsky’s death.

“Acquittal is a predictable outcome to a trial in which truth and justice were never the goals,” said Hans Hogrefe, PHR’s chief policy officer. “The pattern of impunity from liability for Magnitsky’s torture and death suggests that Russian officials are free to detain, torture, and even kill their critics and whistleblowers with little fear of sanctions.”

The acquittal comes on the same day President Vladimir V. Putin signed legislation halting adoptions of Russian children by Americans. That law is seen as retaliation for US passage earlier this month of the Magnitsky Act, which imposes travel and financial restrictions on specific Russian officials associated with the death of Magnitsky, who had uncovered a $230 million fraud by Russian police and tax officials.

“Now the most vulnerable Russians—orphaned children put up for adoption—must also suffer because of the government’s refusal to protect the human rights of its citizens,” Hogrefe said.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

PHR News