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Litvinenko's Widow Has 48 Hours to Decide on Future Actions

RIA Novosti

19:32 04/10/2013

LONDON, October 4 (RIA Novosti) – The widow of former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko said Friday she would take 48 hours to decide whether she will continue in her bid to persuade UK courts to hold an inquiry into her husband's unsolved death.

Marina Litvinenko's hopes of overturning a government decision to deny an inquiry into the poisoning of her husband in 2006 suffered a setback after a court Friday rejected a request to cap her legal costs in the event the judicial bid failed.

The judge told Litvinenko that she still had enough funds to continue litigation, while British media quoted her as saying legal costs were expected to amount to at least 40,000 British pounds ($64,000) and that she could lose 'almost everything.'

Lord Justice John Goldring told Litvinenko that she has until Monday evening to make a decision.

Litvinenko, who was 43 years old when he died, worked with the Russia's Federal Security Service, a successor agency to the KGB, but turned a virulent critic of the Kremlin and in 2000 moved from Russia to Britain, where he claimed asylum.

He was poisoned with the toxic radioactive isotope Polonium-210 days after being granted UK citizenship.

British police have identified the suspects for the killing as two Russian citizens, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. Both deny responsibility and the Russian government has declined to extradite the men, stating that doing so would be in violation of the country's constitution.

Coroner Sir Robert Owen, who is leading the inquest into Litvinenko's death, in May upheld an order by the UK Foreign Office to keep crucial evidence in the case secret because it contained information vital to national security.

He requested, however, that the British government hold a public inquiry into Litvinenko's death to substitute the lower-level inquest.

A public inquiry, unlike an inquest, can receive evidence behind closed doors. In this case it would mean that evidence involving matters of national security could be received by the court. The request for an inquiry was rejected by the British government in July.

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