Litvinenko death 'act of nuclear terrorism' says QC

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Litvinenko death 'act of nuclear terrorism' says QC

The public inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko began yesterday at Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Ben Emmerson QC, the barrister representing Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina Litvinenko, gave his opening remarks at around 3pm.
In his comments, Mr Emmerson said: “The murder was an act of unspeakable barbarism that inflicted on Alexander Litvinenko the most painful and lingering death imaginable.”

Mr Litvinenko died after being poisoned with the rare radioactive substance polonium 210. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery in a lead-lined coffin because of the risks associated with the radiation contamination in his body.
Chairing the inquiry, Sir Robert Owen said the highly deadly toxin could have been used to “kill large numbers of people.”

Mr Emmerson went further, saying: “It was also an act of nuclear terrorism on the streets of a major city which put the lives of numerous other members of the public at risk.”
Accusing Russian president Vladimir Putin of heading a “mafia state”, Mr Emmerson said: “A significant part of Russian organised crime is organised directly from the offices of the Kremlin.”

He added Mr Litvinenko “had to be eliminated – not because he was an enemy of the Russian State itself or an enemy of the Russian people – but because he had become an enemy of the close-knit group of criminals who surround Vladimir Putin and keep his corrupt regime in power.”
Speaking even more strongly shortly after four o’clock, Mr Emmerson said: “Vladimir Putin should be unmasked by this inquiry as nothing more or less than a common criminal dressed up as a Head of State.”
Sir Robert Owen said he was hoping to speak with the two men accused of carrying out the assassination, Lugovoy and Kovtun, via video link. The two men have not been extradited from Russia.
The inquiry stopped at around 4.20pm. It has resumed today and is expected to last 10 weeks.

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