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Litvinenko widow says UK inquiry has uncovered 'truth'

01 august 2015, 13:03
0

The widow of a Russian ex-spy fatally poisoned in London said Friday she believed a British judge-led inquiry had uncovered the "truth" into his death as it heard its final submissions, AFP reports.

Marina Litvinenko said her husband Alexander, a prominent critic of the Kremlin, was killed by Russian agents with the approval of President Vladimir Putin.

Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun are wanted by British police for allegedly poisoning Litvinenko at the luxury Millennium Hotel on November 1, 2006, with tea laced with the radioactive isotope polonium-210.

The inquiry into his death, which has been taking evidence since January and has heard from 62 witnesses, concluded Friday and is due to report its findings by the end of this year.

"I believe that the truth has finally been uncovered. The murderers and their paymasters have been unmasked," Marina Litvinenko told reporters outside the High Court in London.

"My husband was killed by agents of the Russian state in the first ever act of nuclear terrorism on the streets of London. This would not have happened without the knowledge and consent of Mr Putin."

The Litvinenko case is an ongoing source of tension in British-Russian relations, along with the conflict in Ukraine, last year's downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine and repeated cases of Russian military aircraft flying close to British airspace.

Lugovoi and Kovtun deny murdering Litvinenko and Moscow also denies any involvement. Kovtun was due to give evidence to the inquiry via video link from Moscow this week but pulled out at the last minute.

The Russian foreign ministry on Friday condemned the "politicisation" of the inquiry, saying it was replete with "open prejudice" towards witnesses whose testimony did not suit prosecutors.

"There were serious concerns related to its possible politicisation. In the end our concerns were fully justified," it said in a statement.

    Motive was 'revenge' 

Earlier in court, Ben Emmerson, the lawyer representing Marina Litvinenko and her son Anatoly, pointed the finger of blame for Litvinenko's death at Putin, whom he labelled a "tinpot despot".

The lawyer said the motive was "a combination of revenge and the need to prevent further damning disclosures about Kremlin-backed organised crime."

Emmerson told the hearing that a "mangled clump of debris" which contained high levels of polonium was found in the waste pipe of a sink in a bedroom at the Millenium Hotel where Kovtun had stayed.

The lawyer alleged that, after putting polonium into a pot of tea to poison Litvinenko, Kovtun had poured the dregs down the sink.

"The inevitable conclusion is that the person who poured that solution down that sink was knowingly handling the murder weapon itself," he added.

Emmerson said the polonium used to kill Litvinenko was "highly concentrated and almost entirely pure". 

The only facility in the world currently producing polonium of such purity was Avangard, southeast of Moscow, he told the inquiry.


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