UK

Litvinenko suspect rules himself out of attending inquest

Andrei Lugovoi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Russia has refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoi to the UK for questioning

A former KGB officer suspected of killing Alexander Litvinenko says he will not attend the UK inquest into the Russian spy's death.

Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi told a Moscow press conference he could not receive "justice" in Britain.

Mr Litvinenko, 43, died in 2006 after he was poisoned with polonium-210 while drinking tea at a London meeting.

A pre-inquest review heard he was working alongside Spanish spies for MI6 in the days before his death.

Russia has refused to extradite Mr Lugovoi to the UK for questioning. He has also denied any involvement.

It was thought he might have provided video-link evidence to the inquest in London.

But a spokesman for the inquest said: "It is too early to say whether Mr Lugovoi will be called to give evidence and, if he is, how it would be given."

'Will not participate'

Mr Lugovoi reportedly told the press conference, which was hosted by the Russian news agency, Interfax: "I have no hope to get justice in the UK. I finally lost faith in the possibility of an impartial investigation of the case...

"I have to say that I'm out of the coroner's investigation and I will not participate in it."

It has been claimed that Lugovoi and another former KGB agent, Dmitry Kovtun, poisoned Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square.

The inquest is due to formally open on 1 May.

Last month, coroner Sir Robert Owen ruled that sensitive evidence alleged to expose Mr Litvinenko's ties to MI6 will be examined in secret.

He has said he will examine what was known of threats to Mr Litvinenko's life and also whether the Russian state was responsible for his death.

He has also agreed that a group representing Russian state prosecutors can be accepted as a party to the inquest process, which would allow it to cross-examine witnesses and examine evidence.

British Government documents that implied Russia was behind the 43-year-old's death were also revealed. Moscow has denied any involvement.

Sir Robert will also hold a hearing on Thursday, in which he will hear applications for anonymity of witnesses and will consider submissions on the inquest timetable.

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