U.K. to Seek Extradition of Russian Suspect

The United Kingdom will seek to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the former Russian security service bodyguard whom they want to charge with the murder of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko.

The Crown Prosecution Service followed the recommendation of the Metropolitan Police and agree the evidence is sufficient to charge Lugovoi with murdering Litvinenko, who died of acute radiation poisoning in November.

"I have instructed CPS lawyers to take immediate steps to seek the early extradition of Andrei Lugovoi from Russia to the United Kingdom, so that he may be charged with murder and be brought swiftly before a court in London to be prosecuted for this extraordinarily grave crime," said Sir Ken Macdonald, the director of public prosecutions.A major diplomatic struggle may be in the works as the Russians again today said they will not extradite Lugovoi to stand trial.

"In accordance with Russian law, citizens of Russia cannot be turned over to foreign states," spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said on the NTV television channel. "A citizen of Russia, committing a crime on the territory of a foreign state, can, upon presentation of material by this state, can be brought to criminal responsibility but only in Russia."

But today the CPS said that prosecution of the case is in the public interest so the extradition request will be made.

Some 128 people were discovered to have had "probable contact" with Polonium-210, the radioactive substance used to kill Litvinenko, according to British health officials.During the course of their investigation, police found that multiple locations in London had been contaminated in what many see as a botched assassination.

Early this year, the Metropolitan Police handed the results of their investigation to the Crown Prosecution Service, which under British law, makes the actual decision to bring charges.

Lugovoi had tea with Litvinenko on Nov. 1, the day police believe the lethal dose of poison was administered through a hotel teapot.

Lugovoi has steadfastly denied any involvement in the murder. Today from Russia, he said he believed the charges are politically motivated.

"I did not kill Litvinenko, have nothing to do with his death and can prove with facts my distrust of the so-called evidence collected by Britain's justice system," he told state-owned Itar-Tass news.

As first reported by ABC News earlier this year, police discovered a "hot" teapot at London's Millennium Hotel with an off-the-charts reading for Polonium-210, the radioactive material used in the killing.

A senior official told ABC News that the "hot" teapot remained in use at the hotel for several weeks after Litvinenko's death before being tested in the second week of December. The official said investigators were embarrassed at the oversight.

Investigators concluded, based on forensic evidence and intelligence reports, that the murder was a "state-sponsored" assassination orchestrated by Russian security services.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...