Dead Lawyer’s Trial Delayed

    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2009 file photo, Nataliya Magnitskaya holds a portrait of her son Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in jail, as she speaks  with The Associated Press in Moscow, Russia. British officials are investigating the unexplained death of a Russian businessman, a key witness against Russian officials who allegedly stole $230 in a money laundering scheme.  Alexander Perepilichny's body was discovered in the grounds of his rented house south of London. Police said a post-mortem on the 44-year-old former milk factory owner would begin Friday Nov. 30, 2012, but it was unclear when results would be released. Toxicology results could take months, according to Surrey Police spokeswoman Nicola Burress. At the center of the latest Russian death is Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was hired by the London-based Hedge Fund Hermitage Capital to investigate the alleged money laundering scheme and died in a Moscow jail in 2009 amid torture claims. His death has since spurred efforts in Europe and the U.S. to punish Russian officials who may have been complicit in human rights abuses. (AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

    Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

    How can a dead man defend himself? That’s a legitimate question for the courts in Russia, as the trial of a dead lawyer was delayed Monday to allow the defense more time to prepare. Sergei Magnitsky died while in jail in 2009, but his trial was scheduled to begin Monday for allegedly helping the investment fund Hermitage Capital evade $17.4 million in taxes. Not even in the Soviet days did a dead man go on trial, but a recent Supreme Court ruling has allowed police to conduct posthumous investigations. Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 and died a year later from untreated pancreatitis, which is believed to be the result of being severely beaten.

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