Radioactive body posed autopsy hazard of spy Alexander Litvinenko

SHARE Radioactive body posed autopsy hazard of spy Alexander Litvinenko

LONDON — The body of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was so radioactive that his post-mortem was “one of the most dangerous” ever undertaken, a pathologist said Wednesday.

Nathaniel Cary said Litvinenko’s body was so hazardous that it was left in place for two days after he died in a London hospital on Nov. 23, 2006, from poisoning with radioactive polonium-210.

“It has been described as one of the most dangerous post-mortem examinations ever undertaken in the Western world,” Cary said on the second day of the inquiry into Litvinenko’s death. “I think that’s about right.”

Litvinenko, a former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic, fell violently ill on Nov. 1, 2006, after drinking tea with two Russian men at a London hotel.

Police Det. Insp. Craig Mascall told the inquiry Wednesday that the men who met Litvinenko — Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi — are still wanted for murder.

They have denied involvement, and Russia has refused to extradite them.

In Moscow, Lugovoi told The Associated Press that evidence being presented at the inquiry is “nonsense.”

“Such evidence simply does not exist because Russia wasn’t involved,” Lugovoi said at his office at Russia’s parliament. “Second, even if somebody had produced it, then I can only say that it’s a fake and speculation.”

Lugovoi also said the inquiry is designed to cover up what he suggested was the possible involvement of British intelligence agency MI6.

“In my opinion, any documents that the British secret services will obtain in this case are fake because their sole purpose is to whitewash the British secret services in this story,” he said. “They missed the moment when their agent, an MI6 officer, was killed in the heart of London — and maybe with their help.”

The inquiry’s lawyer has said the probe will look at alternate theories, including suicide, accident and the possible involvement of British security services in Litvinenko’s death.

JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press


Associated Press journalists Dmitry Kozlov and Sergei Fedotov contributed to this report from Moscow.

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