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Litvinenko’s Widow to Seek Open Inquiry into Husband’s Death

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Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian Federal Security Service agent who died of radioactive poisoning in London in 2006, said on Friday she would continue seeking a public inquiry into her husband’s death.

LONDON, July 20 (RIA Novosti) - Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian Federal Security Service agent who died of radioactive poisoning in London in 2006, said on Friday she would continue seeking a public inquiry into her husband’s death.

Coroner Sir Robert Owen, who leads the inquest into Litvinenko's death, said on July 12 that his request to hold a full public inquiry to replace his lower-level inquest had been refused by the British government.

“We are now working on the issue of filing an appeal against the authorities’ decision. We haven’t filed it yet, but the decision has already been made and our stance remains unchanged,” Marina Litvinenko told RIA Novosti.

Last week, the British government refused a request to hold a public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death to replace the lower-level inquest currently underway. Owen requested an inquiry in May, after he reluctantly upheld an order by the UK Foreign Office to keep crucial evidence in the case secret because it contained information vital to national security.

A public inquiry, unlike an inquest, can receive evidence behind closed doors. In this case it would mean that evidence involving matters of national security can be received by the court.

Home Secretary Teresa May explained in her letter to Owen that the reason behind the government’s refusal was the impossibility of making secret documents public and that fact that an inquiry “is almost certain to be more costly of time, money and resources than an inquest.” The letter was published on Friday.

Litvinenko, a 43-year-old former FSB officer, turned critic of the Kremlin and moved from Russia to Britain in 2000 where he claimed asylum. He was poisoned with the toxic radioactive isotope Polonium-210 in London in 2006, days after he was granted UK citizenship.

 

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