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Russia drops probe into whistleblowing lawyer's death

Flowers lay beside a portrait of Sergei Magnitsky after his funeral in Moscow, on November 20, 2009
A handout photo provided by Hermitage Capital Management shows flowers laying on a portrait of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky shortly after his funeral at Moscow's Preobrazhenskoye cemetery on November 20, 2009. Russian investigators have dropped their i

Russian investigators on Tuesday dropped their investigation into the 2009 death in jail of a whistleblowing attorney whose case led to a crisis in relations between Russia and the United States.

The investigators said in a statement they had no evidence that Sergei Magnitsky died from custodians' beatings at the age of 37 as his family and former US-born employer Bill Browder claim.

"Based on the preliminary investigation's results, a decision was taken to end the criminal case due to a lack of evidence of a crime," the Investigative Committee said.

Magnitsky is currently facing a posthumous trial -- Russia's first -- along with Browder into alleged tax evasion.

The Russian lawyer was jailed shortly after disclosing an alleged $230-million fraud scheme being run by senior tax and law enforcement authorities.

An attorney for Magnitsky's mother said he intended to appeal the decision in court.