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Alexander Litvinenko Case - widow seeks ruling

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Alexander Litvinenko Case - widow seeks ruling

Post by shammy on Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:34 am

November 26, 2007

LONDON -- Alexander Litvinenko's widow is seeking a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that Russia was complicit in poisoning the former Federal Security Service officer with radioactive polonium, her lawyer said Friday.

Louise Christian, who represents widow Marina Litvinenko, said she had obtained expert evidence it was "highly likely" the polonium had come from Russia's Avangard plant, a state facility surrounded by tight security.

"We say that there is evidence ... of either active complicity or connivance by the Russian Federation in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko," Christian told a news conference on the first anniversary of Litvinenko's death.

Litvinenko, who became a Kremlin critic in exile, fell ill after drinking polonium-laced tea during a meeting with Moscow-based millionaire Andrei Lugovoi and other businessmen at a London hotel weeks before his death.

He suffered an agonizing death in a London hospital on Nov. 23, 2006. Over a three-week period, the 43-year-old fitness fanatic's health degenerated, leaving him bald, with yellowing skin and complete organ failure.

If judges agree with the complaint against Moscow, the worst sanction Russia could face is expulsion from the 47-member Council of Europe -- a pan-European human rights bloc of which it is a member. No member has been expelled after losing a human rights case in Strasbourg since the organization was founded in 1949.

British-Russian relations have returned to a near Cold War low since British authorities issued an extradition request for Lugovoi on murder charges. Lugovoi has denied responsibility for Litvinenko's death.

Russia refused to hand the businessman over, saying Russian citizens could not be extradited under the country's constitution.


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