Russia will not extradite suspects in the Alexander Litvinenko case to Britain, its chief prosecutor said today.
Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika also insisted that the radioactive element used to poison the former spy could not have come from Russia.
In what is likely to be seen as a setback for Scotland Yard's investigation into Mr Litvinenko's death, Mr Chaika said it would be "impossible" for British investigators in Moscow to arrest Russian citizens in connection with the case, the Independent reports.
Any Russian citizens suspected of involvement would be tried in Russia, he said
His words contrasted with those of Prime Minister Tony Blair who insisted no political or diplomatic barrier would be allowed to stand in the way of the British investigation into Mr Litvinenko's death.
British police would also not be questioning officers of the Russian security service, the FSB. The Russian stance appeared to be at odds with that of Tony Blair, who has said no barrier would stand in the way of the British police inquiry, and of John Reid, the home secretary, who said yesterday that politics would not hinder the inquiry.
It is thought that the visiting team from the Yard's newly formed Counter-Terrorism Command is likely to be less than surprised, however. Before they left for Moscow a senior Yard detective said: "We'll be welcomed with open arms, offered a nice meal and lots of vodka ... and come home with next to nothing."
In a further possible setback, a lawyer for a man regarded by the Yard as one of their best witnesses said he could not see them immediately because he was in hospital undergoing further tests for contamination with polonium-210, the Guardian reports.
As Pravda.ru previously reported The body of the former officer of the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London over polonium-210 poisoning on November 23 has been delivered to his relatives for funeral. The information was received Tuesday from British sources, Itar-Tass reports.
British experts, who conducted the postmortem examination of Litvinenko’s body, said the funeral ceremony should be held as soon as possible. For the time being it is not clear which kind of the service will be organized for Litvinenko in terms of religious canons – either Christian or Muslim.
Walter Letvinenko, the father of the deceased FSB officer , said that his son was thinking about converting to Islam. “He had those questions, he was thinking about that. I came to visit him at the hospital and said that I put a candle for him in a church and prayed for his soul. He replied that he wanted to be buried according to Muslim traditions. I said that his will would be fulfilled. There is another Muslim person in our family. My daughter is married to a Muslim man. The most important thing for us is to believe in God. There is one God. Human life should not be based on satanic laws – that’s what’s important,” Walter Litvinenko said.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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