May 22 2007

Lugovoi Charged In Litvinenko Death

Finally some movement in the Litvinenko case. The prosecutors in London have decided to charge Andrei Lugovoi for deliberate murder:

An ex-KGB agent is to be charged in connection with the murder of poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Moscow-based Andrei Lugovoy, although there is no extradition treaty with Russia.

No details yet, but this makes some sense (though there are challenges in the evidence). Lugovoi was tied to every hotel that showed a serious Po-210 contamination. For three rounds of visits to London in October of last year Po-210 shows up in four hotels (He and Dimitry Kovtun switched hotels during their visit around Oct 16th). At each visit Lugovoi met with Alexander Litvinenko and possibly Boris Berezovsky (they definitely met the during the last round on Oct 31-Nov 1 when Litvinenko fell deathly ill). Kovtun missed the second visit to London around Oct 25th. As Lugovio left London from that trip Kovtun departed Moscow for Hamburg where he deposited his part of the Po-210 trail.

What still makes no sense is the fact the amount of Po-210 that killed Litvinenko was so small as to be invisible to the human eye. It does not take three trips to move a micro-gram. In fact, it is hard to handle a microgram. It would be nice to see how this case pans out, except I am not sure it will go to court. The other option – a smuggling effort for Berezovsky being handled by his comrades Litvinenko and Lugovoi – still appears to me to be much more plausible. And a court case would expose the evidence and give us a chance to see what the prosecutor’s know and see why they went with the wild murder charge.

I am not familiar with British law, but if opening the case allows for depositions then there may be another reason to take this step. We know Berezovsky’s story has changed dramatically in the media. His media explanations of how Litvinenko and Lugovoi trailed Po-210 into his office has never been consistent. The timing of his meeting with Litvinenko on the day he died is critical (because if Litvinenko deposited the Po-210 in his office early in the day the Millenium Bar would not be the point of poisoning in the evening). And it was because of this conundrum Berezovsky admitted Lugovoi was in his office on Oct 31st.

It will be interesting to see if the prosecutor starts letting out some details or not. I fully expect the Russian investigators to play defense attorney in the media now – so maybe we will get the other side of the story. Lugovoi and Kovtun appear to be witnesses who turned evidence for their testimony. If true this entire story may still have some twist and turns in it. Then again, if nuclear material was being smuggled across London, a great way to bury that news is under a murder charge. But that is pure wild speculation on my part. We hopefully will havbe more details come out to fill in the picture. BTW, CNN has a reasonable overview of the case up.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Lugovoi Charged In Litvinenko Death”

  1. Snapple says:

    I think all of this goes back to those apartment buildings that were bombed in Russia.

  2. Snapple says:

    I think all of this goes back to those apartment buildings that were bombed in Russia.

  3. Snapple says:

    I think all of this goes back to those apartment buildings that were bombed in Russia.

  4. Snapple says:

    Sorry for all the posts. It appeared not to be posting!

  5. Snapple says:

    Sorry for the multiple postings. They appeared not to be posting.

  6. copydude says:

    Interesting, AJ, that the UK Daily Pundit – which links to you – is also of the opinion that the whole thing had to be buried in some way.

    Pundit is right of centre and establishment too.

    It’s a cover up. End of story.

    My take is here:

  7. BarbaraS says:

    I think its a cover up too. The whole thing as premeditated murder makes no sense. If Lugovoi is guilty of murdering Litvinenko why didn’t he just take out an ad in the paper announcing his plans. If he is guilty he made no effort to cover his tracks. In fact, it seems he and Kovtun are the only people involved who can be traced back to the polonium 210. If he had not been such a close associate with both Litvinenko and Bereszovsky there might be grounds to think he murdered Litvinenko for Putin. But he was a close, close associate of Bereszovsky. And even if he betrayed Bereszovsky why was there so much polonium 210 involved. I still think it was a smuggling operation gone wrong and the Brits don’t want that news out. However, unless the smuggling is still going on that particular polonium 210 has drastically degraded by this time and any danger of a dirty bomb is in the past.