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Litvinenko widow: Fight not over

The widow of poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has vowed to continue her quest for the truth after the Government refused her impassioned calls for a public inquiry into his death.

Marina Litvinenko said she was still "optimistic" that the full circumstances behind her husband's death would be exposed.

Her comments came after suffering another devastating setback in her pursuit of justice, as coroner Sir Robert Owen said the Government had rejected calls for a public inquiry to be set up in place of an inquest.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, Mrs Litvinenko said: "Everyone was a little shocked and disappointed by the decision." She added she wants to know why the Government made its decision.

Mrs Litvinenko said: "Were they trying to protect the Russian state? Were they trying to protect national security secrets?" She continued: "I'm optimistic, now so many people are involved in this case. More and more people want to know the truth."

She added that the way the Government handled its decision not to hold a public inquiry was "impolite and rude".

Alex Goldfarb, a friend of the Litvinenko family, attended the hearing to show his support. He said: "It's absolutely transparent that the Russian government is behind this murder. The evidence has been seen by the Coroner and the courts. There's prima facie evidence that the Russian government is behind it. There's some sort of collusion behind the scenes with Her Majesty's Government and the Kremlin to obstruct justice."

Mr Litvinenko, 43, was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 while drinking tea at the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square in 2006. The family believe he was working for MI6 at the time of his death and was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

Sir Robert previously ruled that vital secret evidence could not legally be considered as part of a normal inquest and asked the Government to hold an inquiry instead. He determined that he could not hear evidence linked to the alleged involvement of the Russian government in public following an application by the Foreign Office to keep certain information under wraps.

A Government spokesman said: "We believe that the coroner's inquest can continue to effectively investigate the circumstance of Mr Litivenko's death and we will continue to co-operate fully with it."

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