British prosecutors say they have sufficient evidence to charge two Russian nationals over the Salisbury novichok poisonings.
They said they had enough evidence to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal and police officer Nick Bailey.
The men are also facing charges of conspiracy to murder Mr Skripal, the use and possession of novichok contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act, and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Mr Bailey.
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It comes after the Skripals were found slumped on a park bench in March after coming into contact with the military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury.
Sue Hemming, CPS director of legal services, said: “Prosecutors from CPS Counter Terrorism Division have considered the evidence and have concluded there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it is clearly in the public interest to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are Russian nationals.”
She added: “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. Russia has made this clear following requests for extradition in other cases. Should this position change then an extradition request would be made.
“We have, however, obtained a European arrest warrant (EAW) which means that if either man travels to a country where an EAW is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges for which there is no statute of limitations.”
In a statement, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the investigation into the poisonings had been “highly complex”.
He said: “Today marks the most significant moment so far in what has been one of the most complex and intensive investigations we have undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing; the charging of two suspects – both Russian nationals – in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
“I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service for their independent assessment of the evidence in this case.
“This has been a highly complex investigation for UK policing, which would have been impossible without the great staff and abilities of the UK intelligence community and the support of the government.”
He added: “My thoughts remain with Dawn Sturgess’s family as they come to terms with their loss, the other victims who fell seriously ill after being exposed to a Novichok nerve agent and the people of Salisbury who have shown tremendous resilience throughout.”
The officer said the two suspects are aged about 40 and that it is likely they were travelling under aliases. He said it was likely Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.
In response to the latest developments, Russia’s foreign ministry said the names published “do not mean anything to us” and that the investigation required “close cooperation” and “careful analysis”.
From – SkyNews