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Russia not subject to jurisdiction of British courts - Russian embassy

The Mirror newspaper reported earlier citing Rowley’s lawyer Patrick Maguire that the man planned to sue Russia to be paid a compensation of 1 mln pound sterling

LONDON, September 22. /TASS/. Russia’s embassy in the United Kingdom said on Sunday it shares the striving of British citizen Charlie Rowley, who was allegedly exposed to Novichok nerve agent in Amesbury last summer, to learn the truth about the incident but stresses that Russia is not subject to jurisdiction of the British state.

The Mirror newspaper reported earlier citing Rowley’s lawyer Patrick Maguire that the man planned to sue Russia to be paid a compensation of 1 mln pound sterling ($1.25 mln).

On June 30, 2018, two British nationals, Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charles Rowley, 45, were taken to hospital in critical condition in the British town of Amesbury. The Metropolitan Police claimed that the two had been exposed to Novichok, the same nerve agent that had been allegedly used to poison former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Sturgess died on July 8 while Rowley was discharged from the hospital on July 20. However he was taken to hospital again in mid-August, with meningitis. After a probe, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a report released on September 4 that the substance that had poisoned two persons in Amesbury was the same nerve agent that was used in Salisbury. However nothing was said about its origin.

"For our part, we fully share Charlie’s desire to establish truth regarding his poisoning that also resulted in the death of his partner Dawn Sturgess. Mr Rowley is seeking clarity over the "unanswered questions", which is, incidentally or not, the title of the Embassy’s own report with questions to the British authorities. A number of those are directly linked to Mr Rowley’s poisoning: where and when did he find the bottle allegedly containing a nerve agent; where had that bottle been between March and June; was that bottle linked to the Salisbury incident, and if so, why was it found in Amesbury sealed and unassembled?," the embassy noted.

"As one can easily see, answers to these questions are to be provided by British rather than Russian authorities. So far, Russia has not succeeded in getting any from the UK government, while British MPs and media are not even trying to do so. In these conditions, it is only natural for Mr Rowley to seek truth in courts. By keeping the victim uninformed of the circumstances of his poisoning, the UK is quite obviously violating his human rights, first and foremost the right to a fair trial as enshrined in the European Convention," the embassy stressed.

Commenting on Rowley’s plans to go to court, the embassy noted, "As far as we understand, these plans are at a very preliminary stage. A lawsuit specifically against the Russian government is but one of the options considered by Mr Rowley’s lawyers."

At the same time, the Russian embassy stressed that Russia was outside jurisdiction of British courts. "As regards a hypothetical lawsuit against Russia, let us recall that, under the principle of sovereign equality, the Russian state is not subject to jurisdiction of the British state, and vice versa. For its part, the Russian legal system has been, from day one, prepared to fulfil its duties with regard to the poisoning of two Russian nationals in Salisbury, but has been precluded from doing so by a stubborn refusal of any cooperation by the British side," it added.

Skripal poisoning incident

If the British version of the affair is to be believed, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such an agent. Notably, Britain’s military chemical laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury said it failed to trace the origin of the substance that poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripals.