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UK, Russian security services resume cooperation after Litvinenko case

November 07, 2013, 20:21 UTC+3
Sawers said Britain and Russia were already cooperating to ensure security during the Winter Olympic Games
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LONDON, November 7 (Itar-Tass) - The British MI-6 chief John Sawers said his service would resume intelligence cooperation with Russia, which was broken up after the death of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in London in 2006.

Sawers said Britain and Russia were already cooperating to ensure security during the Winter Olympic Games in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi in 2014 and confirmed that this cooperation would develop step by step.

Meanwhile, the London coroner’s court will convene on November 29 for a pre-inquest hearing on Litvinenko’s death.

“Sir Robert Owen, in his capacity as Assistant Coroner for the Inner North London District of Greater London, will hold a Pre-Inquest Review hearing on 29 November 2013,” a note posted on the Litvinenko Inquest website said on Thursday, November 7.

“The purpose of the hearing on 29 November is to assist Sir Robert to prepare for an Inquest in the event that there is no Public Inquiry,” the note said.

The decision against a public inquiry was made by the British authorities in July 2013.

It is not clear yet what decision the court will make in response to Foreign Secretary William Hague’s appeal against the part of Owen’s ruling of May 17, in which the coroner did not support some of his requests concerning protection of British interests in connection with Litvinenko’s death.

The appellate court may make the decision on the matter before November 29. “If judgment is given in those proceedings before 29 November and has any bearing on the submissions to be heard, then the Coroner will take them into account,” the note said.

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.

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