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British Coroner in Litvinenko case to take decision on parameters of inquest

November 27, 2013, 18:52 UTC+3 LONDON

Right of the British government to keep secret a range of sensitive documents was previously confirmed by High Court

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LONDON, November 27. /ITAR-TASS/. British Coroner in the case of the former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died in unclear circumstances in November 2006 while living in a self-imposed exile in London, will take a decision on the parameters of inquest in the man’s death after scrutinizing a verdict of the High Court that has confirmed the right of the British government to keep secret a range of sensitive documents, a spokesman for the Coroner told Itar-Tass.

The spokesman said Sir Robert Owner, the Coroner, would consider the details of Wednesday’s ruling of the High Court on a non-disclosure of secret information for the purpose of national interests defense as part of exercising the supervisory powers.

Sir Owen is expected to hear proposals on the spectrum of the Coroner’s investigation in the light of his own resolution issued May 17 on the petition by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who cited the defense of national interests, and the November 27 ruling of the High Court, the spokesman said, adding that a decision will be formulated in due time.

Wednesday, three judges of the High Court supported the petition by Secretary Hague, who supervises the operations of British intelligence services, over a number of decisions passed by Coroner Owen, who had been pressing for a declassification of some sections of information related to the alleged poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium.

The Coroner’s Court will have a new review session on the case Friday. The agenda of the hearings now includes a scrutiny of the consequences that the High Court ruling on Hague’s appeal will have for the inquest.

The review is called upon to assist Sir Robert in preparing the inquest considering the fact there will be no public hearings, the spokesman said earlier.

British Home Office passed a decision to refrain from public investigation back in July - a motion that prompted Litvinenko’s widow Marina to file a supervisory appeal. Following the High Court’s ruling, it is now due to come under scrutiny.

Under British law, the circumstances of a person’s death that give rise to suspicions are considered by the Coroner’s Court, as the Coroner has a duty to establish whether or not the death had a criminal nature. If the result proves positive, the case is then handed down to a regular court.

Circumstances of Alexander Litvinenko’s death have not been established precisely to date. A lawyer representing Marina Litvinenko told the Coroner’s Court earlier that the fugitive former Russian security officer was cooperating with the British and Spanish secret services at the time of his poisoning with radioactive polonium-210.

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