With the video feed on a five minute delay for security reasons and evidence relating to Russian state responsibility heard in private, the Litvinenko inquiry began today. His lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, accused the Kremlin of committing “the calculated pre-planned murder of a British subject on the streets of our capital city by agents of a foreign government”, claiming “the trail of polonium traces leads not just from London to Moscow but directly to the door of Vladimir Putin’s office”. He says Putin is “a common criminal dressed up as a head of state”.
The inquiry was told the evidence will show MI6 informant Litvinenko was poisoned twice, famously at a hotel bar and also in an office two weeks earlier, where suspects Andrey Lugovoi – now a Russian politician – and Dmitry Kovtun had been present. Lugovoi and Kovtun, charged with Litvinenko’s murder in absentia, have been invited to appear by video link. It is alleged radiation was found in places visited by Lugovoi and Kovtun in London, including on the aeroplanes they had travelled in, cars, restaurants, hotels and Arsenal football club’s Emirates stadium.
Before he died, Litvinenko claimed:
“I know that this order about such a killing of a citizen of another country on its territory, especially if it is something to do with Great Britain, could have been given only by one person. That person is the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”
The inquiry continues…