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Key witness in ex-spy poisoning probe says no more questioning

MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - A key witness in the Russian ex-spy murder investigation denied foreign media reports Tuesday that he could be questioned again.

The BBC Russian Service said Tuesday Russian and Scotland Yard investigators were questioning Andrei Lugovoi for a second time in a Moscow clinic where he is being screened for polonium-210, a radioactive substance believed to have caused the death of Russian defector Andrei Litvinenko.

"No questioning is taking place, this information does not correspond to reality," Lugovoi, a witness in the Andrei Litvinenko murder case, said.

"[Russian] prosecutors did arrive today," Lugovoi said. "They gave me the protocol [of the previous questioning] and I signed it."

The Prosecutor General's Office declined to comment, saying that all the official reports on the Litvinenko case would be available on their Web site.

Lugovoi, a former officer of the Kremlin guard service and now a businessman, met with Litvinenko, who defected to Britain in 2000, in London November 1, the day he fell ill.

Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin's administration and a close associate of fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, died in a London hospital November 23, a month after receiving British citizenship.

Lugovoi was questioned Monday but refused to reveal the questions he was asked, only saying he was questioned as a witness, not as a suspect.

A source close to the investigation has said he could be questioned again.

"Investigators could have additional questions after analyzing Lugovoi's testimony, and then Scotland Yard officers and Russian prosecutors will interview him again," the source said.

Russian prosecutors launched a criminal investigation December 7, separately from the Scotland Yard-led probe, into Litvinenko's killing following a related murder attempt allegedly made on Litvinenko's contact Dmitry Kovtun, another Russian agent-turned-businessman.

Lugovoi and Kovtun met with Litvinenko in a London hotel shortly before he was hospitalized with symptoms of poisoning, and are themselves undergoing radiation checks now. Kovtun has already been diagnosed with radiation poisoning, and Lugovoi's test results will be released by the end of the week.

Interpol joined Russian, British and German investigators Tuesday in their efforts to solve Litvinenko's murder.


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