Chatter: Sergei Magnitsky is guilty, and dead




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Dead man talking. A court in Moscow has declared Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky guilty of tax fraud — four years after his death in pre-trial police custody. 

Magnitsky has the dubious honor of being the first Russian ever convicted posthumously, and the less dubious honor of being the spur for some major tension between Russia and the United States. William Browder, Magnitsky's America-born former client and now co-defendant, has long maintained that the charges are retribution for the late lawyer's discovery of apparent proof of dodgy dealings between Russian tax officials.

The US agreed the case was fishy enough to slap a travel ban and asset freeze on Russian officials suspected of involvement in this and other human rights abuses — its so-called "Magnitsky Act." Russia responded by banning Americans from adopting Russian children and, er, convicting a dead man. Surreal as today's verdict may be, it will likely take Washington-Moscow relations to an even chillier notch.  


With a little help from Egypt's friends. The US intends to deliver fighter jets to Egypt as planned, Pentagon officials have indicated. According to Reuters' defense sources, the government apparently doesn't think it might be worth reviewing the order for four F-16s in the light of minor developments like, say, the military deposing an elected president.

Meanwhile the interim leaders who replaced said president are still struggling to form a transitional government, not least because of orders issued for the arrest of several of the most senior members of his Muslim Brotherhood party. But so long as no one mentions the word "coup," the US retains the right to give Egypt all the military hardware it likes.

Delhi verdict delayed. The teenager accused of taking part in one of India's most shocking rape cases will have to wait another two weeks to learn his fate. The juvenile court that's trying the youngest suspect in last year's infamous Delhi gang rape was due to deliver its verdict today, but has instead deferred its ruling to July 25.

The accused, 17 at the time of the attack, is one of six men alleged to have raped and beaten a 23-year-old student so violently that she died two weeks after the ordeal. As a juvenile, he faces a maximum of three years' detention; the others could be sentenced to death.

High ideals. Whoever says that no one cares enough to protest anymore? Even as we type, six Greenpeace activists are scaling the tallest building in Western Europe, London's 1,016-foot Shard tower.

Codenamed operation "Iceclimb," the stunt is intended to raise the alarm about Shell's activities in the Artic, where the oil company has expensive plans to drill. Will the protesters make it up — and down again? Will police arrest them if they do? Follow their progress live, here.


Why Dear Leader, what... waxy skin you have. North Korea has its first exhibit should the communist regime ever choose to open a Comrade Tussauds: a waxwork of deceased dictator Kim Jong Il, donated by admirers in China. 

The model joins a whole host of official Kim fan art in the nation he ruled: monumental statues of him and his father before him, Kim Il Sung, tower over cities all over North Korea. In the distance, you might be able to make out a giant ode to his successor, Kim Jong Un, carved into the very mountains. It's a country where loving your leaders is an art form — and here's our pick of the finest examples