LONDON, August 20 (Itar-Tass) - The London coroner’s court has announced that preliminary hearings on the death of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in London in 2006, would be held on October 4.
The court would consider further appeals for the anonymity of witnesses from London’s police. Similar appeals were considered at the previous meetings of the coroner’s court. One of them was upheld and the others were rejected.
It was expected earlier that the main hearings would start on October 2. However they have been postponed. Initially, the inquest proper was supposed to begin 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 inquest said earlier it might look into the involvement of Litvinenko’s late friend Boris 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.