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Russia

Late Russian whistleblower's lawyer injured after falling from window

The lawyer for the family of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky is in hospital after a fall from his apartment. Russian media say there was no foul play, but Magnitsky's former employer said the lawyer had been "thrown."

Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer who has been hired by the family of Sergei Magnitsky (photo above), a Russian whistleblower who died in jail eight years ago, is in intensive care after falling from his fourth-floor Moscow apartment, Russian media reported.

Interfax news agency reported that Gorokhov, 53, who had been due to represent Magnitsky's mother in a Moscow court on Wednesday in a hearing linked to a $230 million (213 million euro) alleged tax fraud case exposed by Magnitsky, plunged from the apartment as a crane was lifting a large bath into his home. Interfax quoted an unnamed law enforcement officer as saying the case had no "criminal element."

However, a statement released by Magnitsky's former employer, William Browder, a US citizen living in the UK, said Gorokhov had been "thrown from the fourth floor of his apartment building ... and is currently hospitalized in the intensive care unit of Botkin hospital in Moscow with severe head injuries." Browder did not give a source for his information.

The statement added that Gorokhov was also a key witness in a separate US court case connected with the alleged tax fraud.

International uproar

Magnitsky was himself arrested on tax evasion charges in 2008 shortly after accusing top Russian officials of involvement in the tax fraud, and later died in prison, aged just 37, while awaiting trial.

He was posthumously found guilty.

Although the Kremlin's own human rights council has spoken of some evidence suggesting that Magnitsky was beaten to death, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that there was any foul play, saying the whistleblower had died of heart failure.

Magnitsky's death triggered international outrage, with the United States under the Obama administration blacklisting 18 Russians for human rights violations in connection with the affair. Russia responded in kind. 

Browder, who was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for tax evasion by the same Russian court that ruled Magnitsky guilty, is leading an international campaign that was launched after Magnitsky's death to uncover corruption and human rights violations in Russia.

tj/se (AP, Reuters)

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