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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ill Latvian Fears Dying in Pretrial Detention

A 62-year-old Latvian businessman, jailed on economic crimes charges despite his poor health, is afraid that he will die like other ill inmates at the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial prison, his lawyer said Thursday.

Grigorijs Spektors is suffering from ischemic heart disease and diabetes and is blind in one eye, said his lawyer, Marina Rusakova.

"I'm in a panic now," Rusakova told The Moscow Times. "We got an expert conclusion saying that he won't last longer than two months without qualified medical help, which is unavailable in jail."

"I saw him yesterday, and he believes that he was brought to Matrosskaya Tishina to die because everyone dies there," Rusakova said.

In November, Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer for Hermitage Capital, died in Matrosskaya Tishina, where he was held for 11 months on murky tax evasion charges. Numerous complaints about his deteriorating health were ignored by officials.

On April 30, businesswoman Vera Trifonova, 53, died of heart failure in Matrosskaya Tishina, where she has spent more than four months on fraud charges.

The Moscow's Ostankinsky District Court refused several pleas to free Spektors on bail of 5 million rubles ($165,400), although new regulations introduced in April say a bail of 500,000 rubles ($16,500) should suffice for suspects like Spektors who are charged with major economic crimes.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 1.

Sergei Tsygankov, a spokesman for the Federal Prison Service, said Spektors' condition was good enough for him to remain in the prison hospital, where he was put on May 7.

Spektors, who was extradited from the Netherlands to Russia in January, is accused of stealing 17 million rubles ($562,000) in a fraud scheme in 2003, Rusakova said.

A spokeswoman for the Latvian Embassy said representatives visited Matrosskaya Tishina in the spring and have appealed about Spektors' condition to the Ostankinsky court. The letter was redirected to the prison, which has not replied, she said.

The Spravedlivost civil rights group is aware of at least two additional inmates who are seriously ill in Moscow prisons, said Viktoria Milovanova, a spokeswoman for the organization.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who fired about 20 prison officials after Magnitsky's death, has ordered an investigation into Trifonova’s death. Two investigators have been fired over the death, and a criminal case has opened against the chief investigator in the case, Sergei Pysin, who is accused of negligence.

Judge Olga Makarova, who denied bail to Trifonova three times despite her poor health, has resigned, the Moscow Regional Court said Thursday. The court ruled Wednesday that Makarova's third denial for bail had been against the law.