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British police send file on ex-KGB agent to prosecutors

LONDON -- Police sent the results of a two-month investigation of the death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko to prosecutors yesterday, raising the possibility that a suspect could be charged with his murder.

Police declined to comment on whether the file named suspects or recommended that charges be filed. Such files typically are given to prosecutors when officers believe they have built a conclusive case, a Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors will use the file -- which contains details of investigations by London police in Britain, the United States and Russia -- to decide whether any individual will be charged with criminal offenses regarding the death, police said.

Police issued a statement saying: "We are not prepared to discuss the contents of the file."

Prosecutors must decide if the police evidence meets the standard needed to secure a conviction, the Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with its regulations.

However, detectives have not closed the case, a police spokeswoman said, and would continue to hunt for evidence.

Litvinenko, a Kremlin critic who lived in exile in London, died in a London hospital on Nov. 23 from a lethal dose of the radioactive element polonium-210.

In a deathbed statement, the former KGB agent accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that officials had received the police file. "Decision on whether there is sufficient evidence rests with the prosecution service," the prosecution spokeswoman said. "We have received a full file from the police."

A Russian businessman identified by British media as a key suspect in the case told The Associated Press on Saturday that he had no role in the crime.

Andrei Lugovoi, who was interviewed in Moscow by Russia n officials on behalf of London police, said the allegations against him were "lies, provocation, and government propaganda."

Russia's prosecutor general's office has said Moscow would not allow the extradition of Lugovoi to Britain if he is charged in the British inquiry.

"Now that the file has been sent to the prosecutors, I certainly hope they will bring charges regardless of the prospect of extradition. These people should be brought to justice," said Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Litvinenko. "The British police have been wonderful. So far everything has gone by the book despite the Russian government doing everything to prevent them doing their work."

British detectives who traveled to Moscow in December were not allowed to interview Lugovoi and a second man, Dmitry Kovtun. They were only able to sit in on questioning of the two Moscow-based businessmen by Russian prosecutors.

Lugovoi and Kovtun met with Litvinenko at London's Millennium Hotel on Nov. 1, hours before he said he felt ill.

Police focused on the hotel as the likely place where Litvinenko was contaminated.

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