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Investigation of Amesbury poisoning is quasi-judicial, Russian embassy says

Earlier, preliminary hearings were held in London with the aim of specifying the format and framework of the forthcoming coroner probe into British national Dawn Sturgess’ death in summer 2018
The Russian embassy in London Ilya Dmitryachev/TASS
The Russian embassy in London
© Ilya Dmitryachev/TASS

LONDON, March 31. /TASS/. The Russian embassy in Britain has described as quasi-judicial Coroner Heather HaIlett’s intention to look into the suspicion of Russia’s complicity in the death of Dawn Sturgess as a result of the Amesbury incident in the summer of 2018, the embassy’s spokesperson told TASS.

"This is a confirmation of our earlier forecast that the situation over these tragic events will follow the well-known ‘Alexander Litvinenko scenario’. Normal investigation and normal use of the existing international legal mechanisms (after all, Russian citizens are involved) has been replaced by a quasi-judicial probe. Formally it has no bearing on the Salisbury incident, but one can have no doubts that it will be used for another soap opera-style string of charges from the British authorities against Russia," the diplomat said.

"The coroner’s latest statement indicates that she proceeds from some connection between the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents and presumes that two citizens of our country are responsible for the Skripal case and in general fully trusts British secret services’ fakes. Now she will be trying to prove a pre-cooked version of the incident," the Russian embassy said.

"In the meantime, we have not yet received any requests for legal assistance from the British authorities, while our own numerous questions to London regarding the circumstances of what happened in Salisbury and the plight of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have remained unanswered," the diplomat stressed.


Earlier, preliminary hearings were held in London with the aim of specifying the format and framework of the forthcoming coroner probe into Sturgess’ death. It was initiated in July 2018 only to be postponed several times. The investigation will proceed alongside Scotland Yard’s separate investigation of Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, pooled into one case.

On March 30, Hallett said that to probe into Dawn Sturgess' death without looking into how the chemical agent Novichok got to be in Salisbury and Amesbury, "who brought it and who directed them" would be an "incomplete, potentially misleading investigation."

In Britain, a coroner’s task is to establish all circumstances of violent or suspicious deaths. A coroner is not in a position to name those guilty, but on the basis of conclusions made the case can be sent to a court of law.

Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

If the British version of the affair is to be believed, Sergei Skripal, a former GRU colonel, earlier convicted in Russia of spying for Britain, and his daughter Yulia, were affected by a nerve agent in the British town of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. London later claimed that the substance had been developed in Russia and Moscow was allegedly behind the incident. The Russian side strongly dismissed all speculations on this score, saying that no programs for developing such a substance had ever existed either in the Soviet Union or in Russia. Specialists at Britain’s laboratory in Porton Down said they were unable to identify the origin of the substance that had been presumably used for poisoning the Skripals.

Dawn Sturgess and her companion Charlie Rowley on June 30 were taken to the hospital in Amesbury in critical condition. On July 8, the news arrived Sturgess had died in the hospital. Rowley was discharged on July 20 only to be hospitalized once again; this time diagnosed with meningitis.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on September 4 said in a report that Sturgess’ death was due to a contact with the same chemical that had earlier affected the Skripals.

On September 5, 2018, the then British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed parliament on the results of the investigation, saying that two Russians were suspected of an attempt on the Skripals’ lives. They carried passports issued in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. British secret services suspect they are GRU agents. Petrov and Boshirov in an interview to the television broadcaster RT dismissed these charges.