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Coroner’s court to examine Litvinenko case on London Sept 20

September 20, 2012, 5:03 UTC+3

British investigators consider Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi to be the main suspect in the case, but he flatly denies all charges

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LONDON, September 20 (Itar-Tass) —— The coroner’s court will convene in the British capital on Thursday, September 20, to examine the case of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006.

At the meeting, preliminary in nature, the prising judge will give instructions regarding the investigation that has not started yet.

Litvinenko died of polonium 210 poisoning at a London hospital in November 2006.

British investigators consider Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi to be the main suspect in the case, but he flatly denies all charges.

The British authorities claim that Lugovoi is responsible for Litvinenko's death.

If Britain gave Russia the proof that Russian MP Lugovoi killed Litvinenko in London in 2006 by poisoning him with radioactive polonium-210, Russia would study it, the spokesman for the Russian Embassy in London, Konstantin Shlykov, said, earlier.

“First of all, the statement that Mr. Litvinenko was killed by way of execution ordered by the state and orchestrated by Russia is not backed up by evidence. And we are confident that no such evidence has ever existed. Otherwise, it would have been given to us,” Shlykov said in a letter to The Sundy Times that published an article titled “Russia Murdered Litvinenko, Says Top Prosecutor” in October of last year.

“Second, when the author says that Russia refuses to extradite Lugovoi who allegedly killed Mr. Litvinenko, he [the author of the article] did not bother to mention that according to its constitutional norms Russia does not extradite its citizens to other countries for court investigations on their territory, irrespective whether it is Lugovoi or someone else. However, using this trick the author tries to create the impression that the Russian state is sort of ‘covering up’ for Mr. Lugovoi. But this is not true. If the British investigation bodies have well grounded proof of Lugovoi's guilt, Russian law enforcement agencies are ready to study them. However no arguments to this effect have been presented since Litvinenko's assassination in London Moreover, the British authorities rejected the benefit of questioning Mr. Lugovoi in Russia. And he, by the way, has repeatedly said publicly that he is ready to answer questions in this case. It would be legitimate to ask why [the British side rejected such an opportunity],” the spokesman said. In October 2011, Coroner Andrew Reed made the decision to conduct a full investigation, during which all circumstances of Litvinenko’s death were thoroughly examined and MI-5 and MI-6 officials’ reports heard.

The investigation is to start in November of this year but financial problems may interfere. The cost of the full investigation was set at 4 million pounds (6.4 million U.S. dollars), which is an exorbitant amount for the London’s four municipal councils that finance the district coroner’s court, and they asked the British government to provide funding.

In early August, Kenneth Clarke, who was justice secretary at that time, promised to give the money but urged the coroner’s court to cut expenses as part of the austerity budget efforts announced by the British government during the financial crisis.

In August, the Litvinenko case was transferred from Andrew Reed to London’s High Court Judge Robert Owen. He may give some clue as to how to cut investigation expenses.

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