So, the breaking news is that British police have completed their investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.
The key quote from the police:
“(The Metropolitan Police) has this morning handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko,” a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard headquarters said. “We are not prepared to discuss the contents of the file.”
And from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):
“We’ll go through absolutely everything that we’ve received in depth to see whether any offence has been committed or if anybody should be charged,” a CPS spokesman said.
He added: “It will be dealt with expeditiously”, but said it was likely to take some time to process the information and decide what action to take. “This is quite a unique case so it really is impossible to say how long it will take us.”
I’m not an expert in criminal law, but I assume that the decision to hand the file over to the CPS means that the police both believe that Litvinenko’s death was a murder, and that they have identified a suspect that they’d like to charge. The questions now are:
- Do the CPS believe there is enough evidence to charge anyone?
- Do the CPS believe a prosecution would be in the (British) public interest (and will they interpret the British public interest narrowly or widely)?
- If a Russian citizen is prosecuted, is there any way in which he can be extradited, or in which he can be persuaded to voluntarily stand trial in a British court?