An inquest into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko is set to open in 2013, the case’s presiding judge, Sir Robert Owen, said at a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Litvinenko, who was allegedly poisoned to death in in London in 2006 after becoming critical of the Vladimir Putin regime, has become the focus of a high-profile tussle between London and Moscow. Litvinenko’s family alleges the Kremlin was behind his death, and the inquest will consider links between his death and the Russian authorities.
The primary person of interest in the case, current Russian parliamentarian Andrei Lugovoi, has dodged British attempts at extradition in a case that kicked off a major diplomatic row between Russia and the U.K.
Owen also said two more preliminary meetings will be scheduled, in November and December, before the main one next year.
The parties represented in the case include Litvinenko's widow Marina, oligarch and benefactor Boris Berezovsky, Lugovoi, London’s metropolitan police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the government of the U.K.
Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and outspoken Putin critic, died in November 2006 in a London hospital after being poisoned with polonium-210, a radioactive substance.
Lugovoi has denied involvement in the killing.
Litvinenko fled to the U.K., which is home to a slew of other outspoken Putin critics, in 2000.