Suspected perpetrators of Skripal attack identified: UK Police

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London, July 19 (IANS) UK police are believed to have identified suspects involved in a near-fatal poisoning of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent, the media reported on Thursday.

According to British-based news agency Press Association (PA), detectives ascertained that several Russian nationals were linked to the attempted assassination of Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told PA: “Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time. They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian.”

The police’s conclusion matches that of the UK government, which has consistently blamed Russia for the nerve agent attack, the Guardian reported.

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The reported identification of suspects in the Skripal case came three weeks after other two persons — Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley — fell ill after coming into contact with same nerve agent.

Sturgess died aged 44 on July 8 as a result of poisoning while Rowley, 45, is seriously ill but conscious in Salisbury District Hospital after coming into contact with the nerve agent.

Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of novichok the Skripals came into contact with, PA said.

Counter-terrorism investigators revealed last week they discovered a small bottle containing Novichok at Rowley’s home. He reportedly told at least one relative that he had picked up the bottle of what he thought could be perfume and gave it to Sturgess.

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Investigators were looking into a possibility that Sturgess might have sprayed Novichok on her face and hands. They were also striving to determine where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Rowley’s home.

Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were also asked to carry out an independent investigation.

The Met Police, who were leading the investigation, declined to comment.

Asked about the latest developments, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told the BBC: “Unfortunately, we don’t have official statement of the British side.”

“I want to hear that from the Scotland Yard or from the Foreign Office. A lot of versions that we hear in newspapers, they are not supported by the Foreign Office.”

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The inquest will be opened by the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner in Salisbury and the hearing is expected to be adjourned to allow police inquiries to continue.

–IANS

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