The wife of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has lost confidence in a coroner’s inquest as the British government said it is considering whether to allow a public inquiry into his death.
Marina Litvinenko has had a “near complete collapse in confidence,” Ben Emmerson, her lawyer, said at a hearing in London today. She has “been shoved and shunted and pushed around by all the resources,” of the British government in a bid to derail the investigation, he said.
She will reconsider taking any further part in the inquest, set up to investigate her husband’s death by poisoning, if the government does not come to a decision soon on whether it will be heard in public, he said.
Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of the Kremlin who lived in London, died in November 2006 about three weeks after being exposed to radioactive polonium hidden in a pot of tea. British prosecutors said in 2007 that another former Russian intelligence officer, Andrei Lugovoi, should be charged with murder.
The U.K. is considering a request from the coroner in charge of the inquest to hold a public inquiry into the death “at a very high level of government,” Neil Garnham, a lawyer for the Home Office, said at the hearing.
Judge Robert Owen wrote to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on June 4, asking that the inquest become a public inquiry. He made the request after ruling in May that information relating to the Russian state’s possible involvement and what U.K. authorities knew about the risk to Litvinenko’s life couldn’t be discussed at public hearings.
U.K. inquests can’t be held in private without all parties present, while parts of public inquiries can be held in secret where matters of national security are at stake.
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