MOSCOW, January 27 (Sputnik) — More than eight years after the death of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, a public inquiry into his case opens on Tuesday, the Telegraph reports.
The 43-year old died in November 2006 after allegedly drinking tea laced with radioactive Polonium-210 at the Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London. He was believed to work for Britain’s MI6 intelligence service.
Sir Robert Owen, one of Britain’s most senior judges, will chair the inquiry and investigate whether there could have been two prior attempts to murder Litvinenko before he was poisoned in 2006, the BBC says.
Recently, it was reported that US intelligence may have intercepted messages between those involved in the murder. If this turns out to be true, these communications could be the key evidence that would help to find out who was behind Litvinenko’s death, the Independent reports.
Two Russian citizens, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, will be invited to testify via a video linkup in inquiry, Sir Robert Owen said.
Following the mysterious death of Litvinenko, Britain identified Lugovoi as a prime suspect in the case and demanded his extradition from Russia. Moscow denied the extradition request, but allowed the suspect to be questioned while he is in Russia.
Andrei Lugovoi, KGB assassin turned TV host is going to star in show called Traitors on Russian Television. pic.twitter.com/rmGa3hCYjc— 'Je Suis AWESOME' (@rmbctious) 15 сентября 2014
Inquest lawyer Robin Tam said the inquiry will hear from more than 70 witnesses, including Litvinenko's family, friends, colleagues, medical staff who treated the former intelligence officer, UK and German police, as well as forensic scientists, the Guardian reports.
Previously, Litvinenko’s brother Maxim told the Daily Mail that the United States, Israel or even Britain could have been responsible for the death of his brother.
“It could have been the English, the Israelis, the Americans. Why would British secret services want my brother dead? To build public opinion against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Maxim Litvinenko said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
Maxim said that his brother had planned to return to Russia, but since he “knew all sorts of things” about Russian dissidents, who had asylum in London, his return to Russia could make bring all sorts of headache to the British and Americans.
Nonetheless, Litvinenko’s wife Marina says Alexander blamed the Kremlin, while he lay on his deathbed, however, Russia denies any involvement, the BBC reports.
The death of Litvinenko, who was a British citizen, led to a straining of relations between Moscow and London.