Russia refuses to hand over murder suspect

157.jpgUK prosecutors rejected an offer by the Russian authorities to put Lugovoy on trial in his native country.

Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions, said in a statement “The Russian response has now been conveyed to us and the Russian authorities have declined to extradite Andrei Lugovoy.”

“They have said that they are prepared to put Lugovoy on trial in Russia if the evidence is forwarded to them.” “The allegation against Lugovoy is that he murdered a British citizen by deliberate poisoning and that he committed this extraordinary grave crime here in our capital city.” “The appropriate venue for his trial is therefore London,” Macdonald added.

The decision by the Russian authorities is certain to increase tension further between London and the Kremlin, commentators said.

Only last week Downing Street insisted that Britain expected full Russian co-operation over its extradition request.

But Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, repeatedly emphasised that Lugovoy would not be extradited.

President Putin labelled the British request “stupidity” and said the Russian constitution prohibits such a move.

The CPS announced last May that it would seek the extradition of Lugovoy to face trial for murder.

Litvinenko died in a London hospital last November from a fatal dose of the extremely rare substance polonium 210.

He was a fierce critic of the Russian regime and had close links with a network of expatriate dissidents, both in the UK and New York.

One member of the group is billionaire Boris Berezovsky, granted political asylum in the UK despite efforts by the Russian government to extradite him.

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