(EUNN) London – Russian authorities told British prosecutors that they would not permit the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy to the United Kingdom to stand trial in the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that Russia would not cooperate in extraditing Lugovoy. Russian newspaper, Regnum, reported that “the decision was made in accordance with Article 61 of the Russian constitution that rules out an opportunity to extradite a Russian citizen to another country and in accordance with point 1, Article 6 of the European Convention on Extradition of 1957.”
The Russian Prosecutors Office did offer to let Lugovoy stand trial in Moscow, which the CPS rejected.
The CPS, is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales, announced its decision to seek the extradition of Lugovoy on May 22, 2007. The formal response from the Russian authorities was received on July 9, 2007.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said, “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 Mr Lugovoy on trial in Russia if the evidence is forwarded to them.”
“The allegation against Mr Lugovoy is that he murdered a British citizen by deliberate poisoning and that he committed this extraordinarily grave crime here in our capital city. The appropriate venue for his trial is therefore London.”
The push to extradite Lugovoy for the murder of Litvinenko has turned into a political communication between Downing Street and the Kremlin where even Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would not allow one of its citizens to be extradited by British authorities.
Litvinenko, 43, died of radiation poisoning after having met with Lugovoy, who is a former Russian KGB agent.
Litvinenko said from his death bed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning, which created an international stir in which Putin has denied any involvement or knowledge, but his comments to the press only drew deeper criticism of his involvement with some believing that Putin actually ordered Litvinenko’s execution. Putin himself is former KGB.
Shortly after the CPS began extradition proceedings, Lugovoy held a press conference in Moscow in which he told reporters that UK prosecutors should be looking at Boris Berezovsky, a wealthy former Russian businessman who dealt with British spies as a more likely candidate for murdering Litvinenko.
Lugovoy said Great Britain was making him a “scapegoat” in the death of the former Russian spy and that British Intelligence used Litvinenko to discredit Russian President Valdimir Putin, the same as they had tried to recruit him to do.