Litvinenko murder suspect to take part in inquiry

15th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A suspect in the radiation poisoning death in London of Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko is expected to testify at an inquiry into the killing next month, British justice officials said in a statement on Monday.

Businessman Dmitry Kovtun has been granted "core participant status" in the inquiry into the 2006 murder and has said he is "willing to attend a video-link session in Moscow", the statement said.

It added that Kovtun "does intend to assert the privilege against self-incrimination", which means he can refuse to answer questions if he believes that he would incriminate himself by doing so.

The video-link is expected to take place at the end of July, although no date has yet been set.

Kovtun and a second Russian, former Kremlin bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi, are wanted by British police for allegedly poisoning Litvinenko in a London hotel using tea laced with polonium-210, a radioactive isotope.

Kovtun told journalists in Moscow earlier this year that he believed Litvinenko was already ill before he met the duo in October 2006 and had most likely unwittingly caused his own death.

Kovtun in March unexpectedly reversed a decision not to participate in the British inquiry, which is looking into possible Russian state involvement in the murder of Litvinenko, a trenchant and high-profile critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Litvinenko died in a London hospital on November 23, 2006, some three weeks after meeting Kovtun and Lugovoi.

In a letter dictated from his deathbed, he accused Putin of having ordered his murder.

A report with the inquiry's findings is due to be published by the end of the year.

The core participants at the start of the inquiry were Litvinenko's widow and son, Marina and Anatoly, as well as British authorities.

© 2015 AFP

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