UK police order toxicology tests on dead Russian whistleblower

Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:36am EST
 

By Maria Golovnina

LONDON (Reuters) - British police have carried out toxicology tests on the body of a Russian anti-corruption whistleblower whose mysterious death in England has put a new spotlight on Russian criminal groups entrenched in Europe.

Alexander Perepilichny, 44, moved to Britain three years ago and had been helping Swiss prosecutors uncover a shady Russian criminal group suspected of being involved in large-scale, cross-border tax fraud violations.

Police have struggled to establish the cause of his death since he suddenly collapsed and died near his home on an up market, heavily protected estate in Surrey, south of London, on November 10.

Following an inconclusive post-mortem on November 14, investigators conducted another examination of Perepilichny's body as well as toxicology tests.

"Toxicology tests are being carried out as part of the investigation," a Surrey police spokeswoman said on Friday, adding that it could take months to get the results.

"The death is being treated as unexplained and remains under investigation."

Although toxicology tests are often standard practice following inconclusive post-mortem examinations, the move has evoked memories of the 2006 death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko who died in London after drinking tea poisoned with radioactive polonium-210.

Perepilichny's case has shed new light on a multimillion-dollar tax fraud scheme that was originally uncovered by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was jailed in 2008 by the Russian authorities on charges his colleagues say were fabricated.   Continued...