LONDON, June 20 (RAPSI) – The next hearing in the inquest of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko’s death is scheduled for July 12 and may partly focus on the upcoming public inquiry, Litvinenko’s widow Marina said on Thursday.
The inquest was launched in an effort to uncover the reason for and the circumstances surrounding Litvinenko’s death, as opposed to punishing the individuals responsible. It was formally launched soon after his death in 2006, but resumed only in fall 2012.
The Coroner Sir Robert Owen ruled in May that testimony regarding the possibility that Litvinenko's death could have been prevented, as well as the Russian authorities' alleged involvement in the killing, could not be considered in the inquest due to its classified nature. However, without taking this evidence into account, the inquest may result in an "incomplete, misleading and unfair verdict," Owen said.
Recently, Owen requested UK Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling to commence a public inquiry into the Litvinenko case. A public inquiry would permit the coroner to make public the evidence classified by the British intelligence service.
The public inquiry would be led by Owen, Marina Litvinenko said. She added that the government’s decision on whether to hold a public inquiry has to be announced by July 3.
Litvinenko’s widow also said that so far she has not made any final decision on what steps to take if the British authorities reject the coroner’s right to hold a public inquiry.
Litvinenko, 43, died on Nov. 23, 2006 shortly after obtaining British citizenship. Doctors announced that they found high levels of polonium-210 in his body.
The British authorities have accused former Andrei Lugovoi, a businessman and lawmaker, of involvement in the murder. Lugovoi has dismissed the accusations as politically motivated.