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Probe on Russian spy's death denied

Britain has rejected a request for a public inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, the coroner responsible for his inquest said.

Judge Robert Owen told a hearing in central London Friday that his request to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling for a probe had been turned down, his office said in an emailed statement.

Owen wrote to Grayling on June 4 asking him to order an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 2006 death of Litvinenko, a critic of the Kremlin who lived in London and died about three weeks after being exposed to radioactive polonium hidden in a pot of tea.

British prosecutors said in 2007 that another former Russian intelligence officer, Andrei Lugovoi, should be charged with murder.

There is evidence indicating the Russian government was also involved, lawyers working on the inquest said in December.

Russia has refused requests for Lugovoi's extradition.

"We believe that the coroner's inquest can continue to effectively investigate the circumstance of Mr. Litvinenko's death and we will continue to cooperate fully with it," Britain's Home Office said in an emailed statement. -- Bloomberg News

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