Skip to comments.Britain to charge former KGB agent for Litvinenko murder (Roundup)
Posted on 05/22/2007 8:18:29 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Britain to charge former KGB agent for Litvinenko murder (Roundup)
May 22, 2007, 14:43 GMT
London/Moscow - Britain said Tuesday it would press murder charges against a former KGB agent accused of the 'deliberate poisoning' of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko with a radioactive agent in London last November.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was sufficient evidence to bring murder charges against Andrei Lugovoy, a Moscow- based businessman who met Litvinenko at a London hotel on the day he was believed to have been given an fatal dose of polonium-210 in a cup of tea.
But the authorities in Moscow immediately rejected Britain's request to extradite Lugovoy, while stressing that the 42-year-old former KGB man could face charges in Russia where parallel investigations into the Litvinenko murder are being held.
Litvinenko, who had British citizenship, died in a London hospital on November 23, last year, some three weeks after he met with Lugovoy and two other men.
Lugovoy, who runs a private security firm in Moscow, has always denied any involvement in the Litvinenko murder.
The CPS decision is likely to fuel tension in Britain's relations with Moscow, already strained by the mysterious Litvinenko affair.
Ken MacDonald, the CPS director, described Litvinenko's murder as an 'extraordinarily grave crime' and said a prosecution of the case would be in the 'public interest.'
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, also referring to the murder as a 'serious crime,' said the British government expected 'full co- operation' from Russia over the case.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said: 'Nobody should be under any doubt as to the seriousness with which we are taking this case. Murder is murder and therefore it is very serious and the nature of this murder also is very serious.'
Blair's spokesman stressed the need to conduct a serious dialogue with Russia over a range of international issues, such as Iran, Kosovo and climate change, and said political and economic links with Russia were important.
'However, what that doesn't in any way obviate is the need for the international rule of law to be respected and we will not in any way shy away from trying to ensure that that happens in a case such as this,' Blair's spokesman added.
Litvinenko's widow, Marina, thanked the British police and legal authorities for their investigations and said: 'This is a big day for me.'
She hoped that her husband's death would 'not be in vain' and that justice would be done by bringing Lugovoy to court in Britain.
Asked to comment on Russia's rejection of the request to extradite Lugovoy, and the possibility that a trial will never take place in Britain, she said: 'If it doesn't happen, we will not stop.'
I certainly hope they are going to include Komrade Vlad in the indictment since he no doubt ordered the hit.
Ted Kennedy is deeply saddened.