Litvinenko murder: UK efforts to extradite ex-KGB agent nixed

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London/Moscow, Nov.13 (ANI): Britain's efforts to extradite former KGB officer and current Russian parliamentarian Andrei Lugovoy to stand trial for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko has received a setback with German prosecutors closing their case against Lugovoy's business partner Dmitri Kovtun.

Kovtun, a former Soviet military intelligence officer, had been accused of illegally transporting radioactive material into Germany. He and Lugovoy met Litvinenko at London's Millennium Mayfair hotel on the day that he was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in November 2006.

According to The Times, Kovtun had travelled to the London meeting from Moscow via Hamburg. German police subsequently found traces of polonium-210 at the homes of his former wife and mother-in-law and in a car used to collect him from Hamburg's airport.

His lawyer, Wolfgang Vehlow, said that prosecutors in the city had now notified him that "the criminal case in Germany has been closed".

Kovtun said Britain should call off its pursuit of Lugovoy, who is now a member of the Russian parliament.

Lugovoy has accused the British Secret Service of trying to recruit him through Litvinenko and claimed that MI6 was behind the murder.

Litvinenko, 44, was a former officer of the Russian State security service (FSB), and later a Russian dissident and writer.

He worked in the Military Counter Intelligence. He was promoted to the Central Staff, and specialised in counter-terrorism and infiltration of organised crime. Six years later, he was promoted to senior operational officer and deputy head of the Seventh Section of the FSB.

In November 1998, Litvinenko publicly accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky.

He was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding his authority at work.

He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. A third criminal case began but he fled to the United Kingdom with his wife, where he was granted political asylum before his death by poisoning six years later. (ANI)

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