The person who poisoned the former Russian counter-intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko in London will pay the ultimate price for his crime and die of radiation poisoning within three years, it has been claimed.
Mr Litvinenko died in a London hospital in November after being poisoned with polonium-210, a rare and expensive radioactive chemical, in a Cold War-style plot reminiscent of a John le Carré novel.
But according to Oleg Gordievsky, the most senior KGB spy to have ever defected to Britain, the extraordinary story has not reached its conclusion yet.
Mr Gordievsky, who was a close friend of Mr Litvinenko, has suggested that the radioactive poison used to kill him will claim at least three more lives before the curtain falls on a mystery that has raised more questions than answers.
In an interview with the Russian daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, Mr Gordievsky said that the person who administered the poison supposedly in a cup of tea in a London hotel would inevitably have received a fatal dose of polonium himself and will be dead within three years.
Two Russian businessmen, who have variously been described as suspects or witnesses, will also lose their lives due to their involvement, he claimed.
The two men, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, held several meetings in London with Mr Litvinenko before his death and have both been questioned in Russia in the presence of Scotland Yard. According to Mr Gordievsky, both will be dead within five years from leukaemia.
The Crown Prosecution Service is deciding whether Scotland Yard has gathered enough evidence to press any charges in what has become a politically-charged case between London and Moscow. The officers were allowed only limited access to both men. But last night, it was reported that there is sufficient evidence against Mr Lugovoi for the CPS to decide whether he should face prosecution. Mr Lugovoi has consistently denied having any involvement in Mr Litvinenko's death and repeated that denial yesterday. Scotland Yard refused to comment.