MOSCOW—Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney imprisoned and awaiting trial for suspected tax evasion, was unexpectedly released last week after his cellmate found him unresponsive. Doctors later discovered he was suffering from death.

Magnitsky, formerly 37, was released on his own recognizance on compassionate grounds and ordered not to leave the city. His passport was retained by prison officials pending the outcome of his trial.

The finding of the court was released today.  The four man, seven woman, one mammal jury convicted Magnitsky of tax evasion and sentenced him to life imprisonment in Moscow’s Preobrazhensky cemetery without the possibility of release, to be served concurrently with death. Visitors are permitted.

“While we understand the reasons behind the accused’s absence from the trial, we elected to try him in absentia,” said Prosecutor Svyatoslav Slobodin. “The Russian court system is one of the most formidable in the world. We cannot undermine our reputation by having people believe that death constitutes an escape from justice.”

Magnitsky’s court-appointed lawyer has said he will appeal the decision.

By Sebastian Panache

Editor-in-Chief. Follow him on Twitter @SebPanache. Or don’t. It’s okay, really.

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