Video: Interpol joins hunt for killer of ex-spy

updated 12/12/2006 8:23:48 AM ET 2006-12-12T13:23:48

International police force Interpol is helping coordinate the investigation into the poisoning of Russian former spy Alexander Litvinenko that now involves forces in Germany, Russia and Britain.

The head of Interpol’s Russian office said on Tuesday the 186 member-country force had been asked to improve the information flow between the three countries, which have launched their own probes into Litvinenko’s death on November 23.

Litvinenko died in a London hospital after exposure to radioactive polonium 210. In a statement associates released after his death, he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his killing. The Kremlin denies any involvement.

“Interpol will be called on, and is already being called on, for speedy exchange of information between various countries,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Interpol’s Russian office chief Timur Lakhonin as saying. He gave no further details.

A spokeswoman from Interpol in France said: “Interpol exists to assist police operations and obviously this case is international in nature and Interpol can therefore offer and provide international assistance between the countries, as and when required.”

The three investigations have sent British investigators to Russia to question those who met Litvinenko, and Russian newspapers have reported that Russian prosecutors might be preparing to fly to London to conduct interviews there.

Businessman suspected of ties
German officials have said they suspect a Russian businessman, who met Litvinenko on the day he fell ill and is now in hospital in Moscow, of being among those responsible for his death.

On Tuesday, they cleared four people feared to have been contaminated with Polonium-210 through contact with the possible suspect, Dmitry Kovtun. He has denied any part in Litvinenko’s poisoning.

Gerald Kirchner of the German Radiation Protection Agency said the ex-wife of Kovtun, her current partner and their two children were unlikely to suffer health problems.

Kovtun spent the night of October 28 at his ex-wife’s Hamburg apartment, where traces of the radioactive substance were found.

“Based on our current assessment, we can definitively rule out any danger for the four people who were exposed,” Kirchner told German radio.

“The contamination in the apartment is roughly equal to what a smoker would be exposed to if he smoked several packs of cigarettes or strong cigars.”

Kovtun has developed symptoms of radiation poisoning, according to Russian prosecutors. But there are conflicting reports about his exact state of health.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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