Top Litvinenko suspect 'talks to UK court'

6th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's prime suspect in the radioactive poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko said Wednesday he had provided new evidence to British court representatives in Moscow.

Current Russian lawmaker and former FSB security agent Andrei Lugovoi also reaffirmed his innocence in the high-profile murder and said he would be hiring his own London investigators to find the real culprits.

"In March I gave witness testimony to a British court, which was accepted by that court," Lugovoi was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

He said the evidence was collected by "English lawyers" who visited Moscow and passed the material on to a court. He also dismissed the idea of travelling to London but said he could speak to the court again by video link.

Lugovoi's comments suggested that he primarily pointed the blame at Boris Berezovsky -- a Russian tycoon and friend of the deceased who is now living in self-imposed exile in London.

Lugovoi said he told British authorities that Berezovsky and Litvinenko had a falling out shortly before the latter's death.

"This is where people should be looking for the motive of the murder," Lugovoi was quoted as saying.

The 43-year-old Litvinenko died in hospital a few days after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium in a high-scale London hotel in November 2006.

Lugovoi was one of the two Russian suspects who met Litvinenko at the hotel.

Polonium is only stored at handful of international facilities -- including those in Russia -- and are generally only accessible to people with his levels of security clearance.

Lugovoi at the time owned a successful security firm with reputed close government connections and with the help of the state media used the scandal to develop a strong following and a seat in Russia's lower house of parliament.

Moscow's refusal to extradite Lugovoi after the murder further complicated its relations with London and the two sides are only slowly regaining each other's trust.

Before his death, Litvinenko was one of the more public critics of then president Vladimir Putin.

His last book accused Russian secret services of plotting a string of apartment block bombings that Putin used as a pretext for launching the 1999 war in Chechnya.

© 2011 AFP

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