British Coroner Seeks Inquiry Into Litvinenko Death

LONDON, June 5 (RIA Novosti) – A London coroner has asked the British government to hold a public inquiry into the 2006 death of former Russian Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko, the coroner’s office said Wednesday.

Coroner Sir Robert Owen, who leads the inquest into Litvinenko’s death, wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on grounds that an inquiry would make it possible to include in the inquest material concerning the alleged involvement of Russian state agencies, and also secret evidence on whether the UK’s security and intelligence services could have prevented the murder.

Owen reluctantly upheld in May an application by the UK Foreign Office to keep crucial evidence in the case secret because it contained information vital to national security.

The coroner said, however, that addressing the issues without classified evidence would make the inquest “incomplete, inadequate and potentially misleading.”

Litvinenko, a former security service officer turned Kremlin critic who moved to Britain, was poisoned with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in London in 2006, shortly after he was granted UK citizenship, British investigators claim.

Litvinenko’s family alleges that the Kremlin was behind his death, and the inquest is expected to consider links between his death and the Russian authorities.

British prosecutors have requested the extradition of two former Russian security service officers – Andrei Lugovoi, who is now a State Duma deputy, and Dmitry Kovtun – over their alleged roles in the killing.

The extradition request was denied by Moscow, but British police were allowed to question the men in Moscow.

Lugovoi said in March that he was severing links with the inquest because he doubted the impartiality of the British investigation.


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