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European court finds Russia guilty of Alexander Litvinenko's 2006 assassination

Published: Updated:

The European Court of Human Rights rules that Russia was responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in the United Kingdom in 2006, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The court found that former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, acted as agents of the Russian state in Litvinenko’s assassination, which took place in 2006 after being poisoned with Polonium 210, a rare radioactive isotope.

They added that the killing may have probably been directed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

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“Russia was responsible for assassination of Aleksandr Litvinenko in the UK,” the court said in a statement on its ruling.

Russia has always denied any involvement in Litvinenko’s death.

Litvinenko, 43, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who fled Russia for Britain six years to the day before he was poisoned, died after drinking green tea laced with the rare and very potent radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.

A British inquiry concluded in 2016 that Putin probably approved a Russian intelligence operation to murder Litvinenko.

“The Court found in particular that there was a strong prima facie case that, in poisoning Mr Litvinenko, Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun had been acting as agents of the Russian State,” the European court said.

“The court found it established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assassination had been carried out by Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun,” the ruling said.

“The planned and complex operation involving the procurement of a rare deadly poison, the travel arrangements for the pair, and repeated and sustained attempts to administer the poison indicated that Mr Litvinenko had been the target of the operation.”

It too concluded that the Russian state was to blame and that had the men been carrying out a “rogue operation”, Moscow would have the information to prove that theory.

“However, the government had made no serious attempt to provide such information or to counter the findings of the UK authorities,” the ruling said.

With Reuters

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