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Police arrest Italian contact of poisoned ex-spy

An Italian contact of the dead former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was arrested on Sunday, a judicial source said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Police on Sunday arrested an Italian man who met with a former Russian spy in London the day the ex-KGB agent fell ill from poisoning, the Italian man’s father said.

Mario Scaramella was arrested in Naples after returning from London. Rome prosecutors have accused him of arms trafficking and slander, and he was being taken to Rome, according to his father, Amedeo Scaramella.

No one answered the phone at Naples police headquarters Sunday, and Scaramella’s lawyer did not immediately return a call to his cell phone.

Scaramella met with Alexander Litvinenko at a London sushi bar on Nov. 1, the day the former KGB agent fell ill. Litvinenko died of poisoning from radioactive polonium-210 on Nov. 23.

On his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for involvement in his poisoning — an allegation that the Kremlin denied.

British police had no comment on Scaramella’s arrest.

Scaramella also was hospitalized for several days in London and he said doctors told him he had received five times the lethal dose of polonium-210, although he showed no symptoms. He left the hospital a few days later.

The same day that Litvinenko met with Scaramella, the Russian met with Andrei Lugovoi, also an ex-Soviet agent; Dmitry Kovtun, a Russian businessman; and Vyacheslav Sokolenko, head of a private Russian security firm, at the bar at London’s Millennium Hotel.

All three men have denied involvement in the ex-spy’s death.

Scaramella has been gathering information for Italian Sen. Paolo Guzzant, the former chair of a parliamentary commission that examined cases of past KGB infiltration in Italy.

Guzzanti said he had spoken to Scaramella on Saturday, and Scaramella told him that British police had told him he would be arrested upon his return to Italy.

“I told him to stay there for Christmas, but he said to me, ‘No, I have no intention of appearing like a fugitive,’” Guzzanti said.