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Russia to start posthumous trial of whistleblower on March 11

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) - A Moscow court will on March 11 start the posthumous trial of an anti-corruption lawyer whose death in custody has hurt Russia's image and strained Moscow's ties with the United States.

A spokeswoman for Moscow's Tverskoi Court said the date had been set after a pre-trial hearing on Monday.

Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer at Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, was arrested shortly after accusing state officials of a $230 million theft. He died in 2009 in pre-trial detention after 358 days in jail on suspicion of tax fraud.

His family and lawyers refused to attend the pre-trial hearing because they said the case was politically motivated.

President Vladimir Putin has said that Magnitsky, who was 37, died of heart failure but his presidential human rights council has said the lawyer was probably beaten to death. No one has been convicted over Magnitsky's death.

His death has also weighed on ties between Moscow and Washington after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill in his name last year that attempts to punish Russians who were involved in his case and are accused of violating human rights. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130304/russia-start-posthumous-trial-whistleblower-march-11