Scotland Yard are now treating the mysterious death of former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, as murder. Two weeks after he succumbed to polonium-210 poisoning, detectives have concluded he was deliberately killed.
In a statement last night, the Metropolitan police said the team investigating Mr Litvinenko’s death “have reached the stage where it is felt appropriate to treat it as an allegation of murder”.
The statement said “many lines of inquiry, both in the UK and Russia” were being pursued and that detectives were keeping an open mind and “methodically following the evidence”.
While Scotland Yard are now ruling out the possibility that Mr Litvinenko deliberately or accidentally poisoned himself, police stressed they have reached no conclusions as to the means employed, the motive or the identity of those who might be responsible.
An early rumour had suggested Mr Litvinenko had possibly been responsible for his own death or had taken poison in order to implicate the Russian authorities.
Friends of Mr Litvinenko said last night they understood he was due to be buried as soon as today in a private Muslim ceremony in London.
However, other reports suggested the funeral could be delayed and take place later in the week.
Mr Litvinenko, who will be buried in a sealed coffin, converted to Islam shortly before his death and was given the Muslim equivalent of the last rites in hospital. Mr Litvinenko’s father said his son converted to Islam shortly before his death on November 23.