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London coroner asks UK govt to conduct public probe into Litvinenko death

June 05, 2013, 19:30 UTC+3
The next hearing will be held as planned on Tuesday, June 11
Material has 1 page

LONDON, June 5 (Itar-Tass) - Robert Owen, Assistant Deputy Coroner for the Inner North London District of Greater London, sent a written request to Secretary of State for Justice Christopher Graylingfor asking for a public inquiry into the death of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006, Sky News reported on Wednesday, June 5.

“Her Majesty’s Assistant Deputy Coroner for Inner North London, Sir Robert Owen, has written to the Secretary of State for Justice, the Right Honourable Christopher Grayling MP, requesting that a decision be made to order a Public Inquiry under section 1 (1) of the Inquiries Act 2005 to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Litvinenko,” Owen wrote.

The letter follows on from Owen’s Public Interest Immunity (PII) ruling of May 17, 2013, in which he sought submissions from the Interested Persons relating to the setting up of a Public Inquiry.

It was announced earlier that the inquest proper would begin on October 2, 2013. It was expected earlier that this would happen on May 1, but then was postponed by presiding Judge Robert Owen for almost six months because of a delay in various procedures, including the submission of certificates by the holders of the “interested party” status.

The first preliminary hearing regarding anonymity applications took place on March 14. It was stated during the hearing that some witnesses would like to testify in court on condition of anonymity. Some of them have yet to be determined and no decisions on the matter have made so far.

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 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.

The next hearing will be held as planned on Tuesday, June 11.

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