United Kingdom charges two Russians over Salisbury poisoning of Skripals

Leroy Wright
September 5, 2018

Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who was sent west in a 2010 spy swap, and his daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury that afternoon.

Britain has blamed Russian Federation for the poisonings.

The Crown Prosecution Service charged the suspects, in absentia, with a conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok.

The final images show the men leaving from London Heathrow Airport in the evening of March 4.

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"We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of these men as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals".

British police also released images of the two men, both around 40 years old, who were blamed for the attack in Salisbury on March 4.

There were no charges announced in relation to the poisoning of the couple who found the bottle of Novichok in a park in the nearby town of Amesbury weeks after the attack on the Skripals, but the police said they have "no doubt these two incidents are connected and now form one investigation", suggesting charges could come in the future.

"There can be no place in any civilized worldwide order for the kind of barbaric activity which we saw in Salisbury in March", she said.

The March poisoning sparked a diplomatic row that led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Britain and its allies and Russian Federation, while the United States also imposed sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the charges "informational manipulation" and said the naming and release of photos of the two suspects "tell us nothing". They both became ill and Ms. Sturgess, 44, later died.

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"A realistic prospect of conviction means the CPS is satisfied on an objective assessment that the evidence can be used in court and that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury hearing the case, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict these two individuals of the charges", Hemming added.

British police are publicly naming the two suspects one day after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had corroborated the United Kingdom investigation's findings that "the same toxic chemical" was responsible for the attack in Salisbury and for Sturgess's death in Amesbury.

She continued by saying that it is up to the jury to decide whether the evidence is enough for the suspects to be sentenced.

Neil Basu, head of UK Counter Terrorism policing, said the plot was "a remarkably sophisticated attack" which appeared to be a clear assassination attempt.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok.

The perfume packaging was bogus - and the bottle and nozzle had been "especially adapted", Basu said.

Basu said the two men had been filmed by CCTV cameras near Skripal's house, where Novichok was sprayed on the front door.

Basu said he stood by Prime Minister Theresa May who said in March there was no other conclusion than that the Russian state was responsible.

Speaking before Scotland Yard's statement, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had repeatedly offered to cooperate with Britain in the Skripal investigation but had been met with "either refusal or silence".

Her partner Charlie Rowley had found a perfume bottle, falsely labelled as "Premier Jour" by Nina Ricci, which police said contained a "significant amount of Novichok".

He said police continue to liaise with the CPS regarding the poisoning of Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley.

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