Hermitage Capital attorney Sergei Magnitsky could have mutilated himself during detention as he displayed bouts of erratic behavior at a medical checkup, a former Matrosskaya Tishina Prison surgeon told a Moscow court on Tuesday.
The Tverskoi District Court resumed on Tuesday hearings in a criminal case against former Butyrka prison deputy warden Dmitry Kratov, the only suspect in the Magnitsky death who has been put on trial for his death in detention.
Alexandra Gauss, a witness at the trial, told the court that she did not notice any bruises on Magnitsky’s body upon his admission to a medical ward at Matrosskaya Tishina Prison shortly after his transfer from Butyrka Prison.
“The patient was admitted with acute pancreatitis. I did not see any bruises on his body," Gauss said.
Magnitsky’s relatives earlier claimed that they spotted bruises on his body after his death in Matrosskaya Tishina on November 16, 2009.
“I think that happened when he lifted up a couch and started banging it against the metal grate in the admissions room,” Gauss said. “Probably, that was how he hurt himself."
She added that the patient exhibited “inadequate” behavior resembling a bout of schizophrenia.
"He was running around the room, covering himself with a bag and talking to an imaginary person. He was shouting that he would die soon and that he was brought to the infirmary to be killed," she said.
She denied the responsibility of medical personnel for Magnitsky’s death.
Charges against the second suspect in the Magnitsky’s death, head doctor at Butyrka Prison Larisa Litviniova, were dropped in April because the statute of limitations had expired under new legislation.
Magnitsky, who accused officials of a $230-million tax fraud, spent a year in Butyrka before his death. He died after "deliberate and inhumane neglect," the Kremlin's human rights body said in a report last year.
The high-profile death provoked an international outcry. The United States and Netherlands imposed travel bans on some 60 Russian officials over the Magnitsky case last year. Russia has responded in kind.