Ex-wife of Litvinenko suspect tested for polonium poisoning

Dimitry Kovtun, a Russian contact of the murdered former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, left substantial traces of radioactive polonium in Hamburg and may have poisoned his ex-wife and her two children with it, German police disclosed yesterday.

Mr Kovtun's former wife, a German named Marina Wall, 31, and her two children, aged one and three, were being tested for radioactive contamination in a Hamburg hospital together with Ms Wall's male companion.

German investigators said they had found polonium traces on all four after carrying out an extensive search of Ms Wall's Hamburg apartment, where Mr Kovtun, 41, spent the night on a sofa at the end of October before flying to London to meet Mr Litvinenko on 1 November. Mr Litvinenko was taken ill the same day.

Polonium-210 traces were also found in a bath and on a sofa in the apartment. Further traces of the substance were found in car used by Mr Kovtun, on a residence permit he handed to the Hamburg city authorities at the end of October and in the home of his ex-wife's mother, which he visited during the same period.

State prosecutors said they were assuming that Mr Kovtun had carried polonium into Germany from Moscow when he arrived on 28 October and appeared to rule out the other possibility, that the substance was inside his body and he had left traces of it on objects by sweating.

The statement appeared to further substantiate comments by German investigators who said on Sunday that they could not rule out that Mr Kovtun was actively involved in the murder plot. A former Russian soldier who served in East Germany before the collapse of Communism, Mr Kovtun stayed on in Germany where he worked as a consultant to firms investing in Russia.

A British police investigator has arrived in Hamburg to gather information about Mr Kovtun. German media reports were unable to shed any further light on claims that he was in a Moscow hospital where he is reported to be receiving treatment for radiation poisoning.

Andrei Lugovoi, a business associate of Mr Kovtun who is believed to be in the same Moscow hospital where he is undergoing checks for radiation poisoning, was questioned by British and Russian police yesterday.

Mr Lugovoi, who was with Mr Kovtun at the 1 November meeting, told the Itar-Tass news agency: "I gave testimony exclusively as a witness. I was officially informed of that before the interrogation. They made no charges against me."

Mr Lugovoi said he was questioned by Russian detectives in the presence of British police.

Russian detectives, who have now opened their own case mirroring the murder investigation in Britain, may fly to London later this week.

As the investigation broadened yesterday, the author Frederick Forsyth said that if he had gone to his publisher with such a plotline, "I think my publisher would have advised me to drop it and stick to something realistic".

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Year 3 Welsh Teacher vacancy in Penarth

£110 - £120 per day + Travel Scheme and Free training: Randstad Education Card...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Male Behaviour Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz