New public inquiry to be held into Litvinenko’s death
LONDON, July 22 (RAPSI) – An inquiry into the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko will be chaired by Sir Robert Owen, a senior judge and the coroner overseeing Litvinenko’s inquest, Home Secretary Theresa May said in a written statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday morning.
The task of the inquiry is to identify “where responsibility for the death lies,” how, when and where Litvinenko died and to “make such recommendations as may seem appropriate,” the Home Secretary said. The inquiry will take into account the outcome of the inquest.
Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, died on November 23, 2006 in a London hospital after he was allegedly poisoned with radioactive polonium. He felt ill after drinking tea with two Russian men, Andrei Lugovoi (a former KGB officer) and Dmitry Kovtun, at the Millennium hotel on Grosvenor Square in central London.
The inquest, which was not held to find the guilty parties but to identify the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death, came to a standstill when Sir Robert Owen said that his examination of any Russian involvement would not be possible without the public inquiry, because he would not be able to consider sensitive evidence held by the government. His request was rejected in July 2013.
In January 2014, Litvinenko’s widow Marina launched a high court case to force a public inquiry, and a month later the court ruled that the Home Office had been wrong to rule out an inquiry before the outcome of an inquest.