It's the stuff of crime novels. But the family of a Russian spy who was poisoned to death after drinking tea with two former KGB agents in London say his death was government-ordered, and on Tuesday, a coroner asserted that accusation may very well be true.
Alexander Litvinenko, 43, a former KGB agent, died in 2006 from ingesting radioactive polonium while sharing tea with two former KGB officers in Grosvenor Square. He had been granted asylum by the United Kingdom and was actively working with MI6, criticizing the Russian government from the safety of London, his family said.
BBC reported that the coroner investigating the murder ruled this week that there was evidence that the Russian government may indeed have been involved.
Papers just presented to the Royal Courts of Justice reveal that coroner Sir Robert Owen believes documents in the hands of the U.K. government "establish a prima facie case as to the culpability of the Russian state in the death of Alexander Litvinenko." The coroner didn't believe U.K. authorities could have prevented his death, however.
The report has sent shock waves through the Russian and U.K. governments, which have already seen relations deteriorate over accusations related to Mr. Litvinenko's death.
His family members say that his poisoning was ordered by the Kremlin and that the U.K. was wrong in refusing to open a public inquiry to vet that claim. His widow, Maria, has been pressing the High Court to order the U.K. to open an investigation.
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