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'Vladimir Putin had Alexander Litvinenko murdered'

By Emma Clark

Vladimir Putin should be held responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the inquiry into the spy's death was told.

It would be impossible for such an "assassination" to happen without the approval of the "morally deranged" Russian President, counsel for the Litvinenko family said.

Mr Litvinenko (43) died nearly three weeks after drinking tea laced with polonium-210 in London in November 2006.

Police concluded that the fatal dose was probably consumed during a meeting with Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi at a hotel in central London.

Ben Emmerson QC, representing Mr Litvinenko's widow Marina and son Anatoly, said: "Vladimir Putin stands accused of this murder on solid and direct evidence.

"The best evidence that is ever likely to be available in relation to secret and corrupt criminal enterprise in the Kremlin."

The inquiry heard forensic evidence linking Kovtun and Lugovoi to the murder, including the discovery of polonium-210 in the pair's hotel rooms.

It also heard how Mr Litvinenko's whistleblowing about Mr Putin and his alleged links to organised crime had made him an "enemy of the state".

Mr Emmerson described the pair as henchmen ordered to liquidate Mr Litvinenko by the Russian State with the backing of Mr Putin.

Belfast Telegraph


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