Crime & Justice

European rights court rules Russia was behind ex-spy Litvinenko killing

Strasbourg, France, Sep 21 (EFE).- The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that Russia had ordered the poisoning attack on Alexander Litvinenko in the United Kingdom, a ruling that Moscow dismissed as “unfounded”.

In 2006, Litvinenko, a former secret service agent and vocal critic of the Kremlin who defected from Russia and escaped to the UK, died weeks after drinking tea laced with the radioactive toxin polonium-210 during a meeting in a hotel in London.

The Strasbourg Court said that “it noted the (Russian) government had failed to provide any other satisfactory and convincing explanation of the events or counter the findings of the UK inquiry.

“The Russian authorities had not carried out an effective domestic investigation capable of leading to the establishment of the facts and, where appropriate, the identification and punishment of those responsible for the murder.”

Charged with violating the former spy’s right to life, Russia is ordered to pay Litvinenko’s widow Marina 100,000 euros ($117,000) in non-pecuniary damages and 22,500 euros in costs and expenses.

But Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a press conference that Russia, which has always denied involvement in Litvinenko’s murder, was not willing to “heed these decisions.”

According to British investigators, Litvinenko met Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun three times in 2006, and traces of polonium were discovered in all the places where they met.

The UK charged Lugovoi and Kovtun with murder and made unsuccessful attempts to extradite them from Russia.

The court ruled that they had “acted as agents of the respondent state,” adding that if they were on their own, they would not have had access to the rare radioactive substance.EFE


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