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Coroner’s court gives Russia status of interested party in Litvinenko inquest

February 02, 2013, 21:05 UTC+3
The investigation might look into the involvement of Litvinenko's friend Berezovsky and groups connected with Chechens and the Spanish Mafia
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LONDON, February 2 (Itar-Tass) – The London coroner’s court that investigates the death of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006 has given the status of interested party to the Russian Investigation Committee.

Judge Robert Own, who presides over the Inquest, said in his letter of January 31, 2013 that if the Russia Investigation Committee were granted the status of interested party, “it would disclose to me relevant documentary material ... save in so far as such material contains information that has been classified as State secrets of the Russian Federation.”

He stressed that as an interested party the Russian Investigation Committee would disclose “evidence which I might otherwise not receive, and may not therefore serve to enhance fullness and thoroughness of the investigation.”

Other interested parties to the process include Maria Litvinenko and her son Anatoly, entrepreneur Boris Berezovsky (the court intends to look into his possible role in Litvinenko’s death), Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi (who the British authorities claim to be a suspect in the case and who flatly denies any such charges), Metropolitan police, and the British Foreign Office.

The judge appointed two new preliminary hearings on February 26 and March 14 prior to the Inquest hearing that are not to begin before May 1. The first will focus on public immunity interests and the second on anonymity applications. The hearings scheduled for March 14 may last two days.

The coroner’s court has also published a provisional list of questions to be examined during the pre-inquest hearings. These include different aspects and circumstances of Litvinenko’s life in Russia and then in Britain, post mortem and toxicology evidence, and responsibility for his death.

The investigation might look into the involvement of Litvinenko's friend Berezovsky and groups connected with Chechens and the Spanish Mafia. The court may also consider different leads as Litvinenko’s suicide and the infliction of death by negligence.

The lawyer of Litvinenko’s wife Marina said earlier that her defendant did not like assumptions that her husband might have committed suicide or died as a result of some accident. Marina believes these leads have no foundation but she is prepared for a situation where they will be considered in court.

It’s a coroner's duty to find out if the death of a person has constituent elements of offence. After that, the coroner decided whether the case should be submitted for judicial inquiry.

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.

Lugovoi is incriminated in Litvinenko's death in Britain.

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



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