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Alleged offender in Litvinenko probe says London relied on forged evidence

January 21, 16:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Moscow is certain that London’s probe into the Litvinenko affair has as political background
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Dmitry Kovtun

Dmitry Kovtun

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. Conclusions produced by the open inquiry into the Litvinenko affair, published in London earlier on Thursday, are based on forged evidence and were well-expected, says Dmitry Kovtun, one of the two Russians the British side holds responsible for poisoning Litvinenko, a former Russian secret service officer, with polonium. The other man involved in the affair is Andrey Lugovoy.

"There had been no doubts Judge Robert Owen would arrive at such conclusions. These rely on forged evidence and the open hearings exposed that. There were no doubts that when the proceedings continue behind closed doors, forged evidence will be used again," he said.

Kovtun described the pieces of evidence presented to the inquiry as "insane and easily refutable." The witness was giving conflicting testimonies all the time. The case is extremely politicized, he remarked.

"Yet I’d hoped for the common sense and courage of Judge Owen. May this decision remain on his conscience," Kovtun said.

He recalled that Lugovoy and he had been ready to participate in other formats of hearings.

"Russia’s Investigative Committee, too, was prepared to take part in the proceedings, but the open inquiry format made that impossible," Kovtun said.

A report containing conclusions of an open inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer of Russia’s federal security service FSB, was made public in London earlier on Thursday. The report claims that Russia had been involved in Litvinenko’s murder. Two Russians: Andrey Lugovoy and businessmen Dmitry Kovtun were named as those responsible. The report says that the court was unable to confirm a Russian origin of polonium with which Litvinenko had been poisoned.

The open inquiry into the Litvinenko affair began in a London court in January last year. Originally it was to be over in March 2015, but eventually it was prolonged as Kovtun declared he would like to testify. Kovtun eventually changed his mind and refused to appear as a witness. When the open inquiry came to an end, the hearings proceeded behind closed doors. Counsel Robert Tam said the open proceedings lasted 34 days and evidence presented by 62 witnesses was examined.

Moscow is certain that London’s probe into the Litvinenko affair has as political background. As the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia had no reasons to expect the final report would be objective and impartial.

Alexander Litvinenko, who had been granted asylum in Britain, died in London on November 23, 2006. Forensic examination found that his death was due to poisoning with polonium, but all circumstances of his death have not been established yet and remain a controversy. The lawyers of Litvinenko’s widow have acknowledged that before the moment of his death Litvinenko had long been on the payroll of Britain’s secret service (foreign intelligence MI6) and of Spanish intelligence. Shortly before his death he obtained British citizenship.

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