No plant toxins in whistleblower’s stomach
A BRITISH scientist told an inquest into the sudden death in 2012 of Russian mafia whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny that no plant toxins had been found in his stomach.
Mr Perepilichny, 44, was found dead near his luxury home on the exclusive gated St George’s Hill estate in Weybridge, Surrey, south-west of London, after he had been out jogging in November 2012.
The sudden nature of the death of Mr Perepilichny, who had sought refuge in Britain in 2009, and his role in helping a Swiss investigation into a Russian moneylaundering scheme raised suggestions that he might have been murdered.
As the inquest resumed on Tuesday after a lengthy delay, Monique Simmonds, a scientist from the botanical Kew Gardens, was asked whether she had identified any plant toxins in the samples she had tested. She said she had not.
However she said other material was found in Mr Perepilichny’s stomach that had not been identified.
An earlier pre-inquest hearing had been told traces of a rare and deadly poison from the gelsemium plant had been found in his stomach.
Meanwhile Yulia Skripal has left hospital more than five weeks after she and her father, a former Russian spy, were poisoned with a nerve agent in an attack that has sparked one of the biggest crises in the West’s relations with the Kremlin since the Cold War.
Yulia and Sergei Skripal, 66, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, were found unconscious on a public bench in Salisbury on March 4.
Britain accused Russia of being behind the nerve agent attack and Western governments including the United States expelled over 100 Russian diplomats. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning and retaliated in kind.
The Skripals were in a critical condition for weeks and doctors at one point feared, even if they survived, they might have suffered brain damage. But the Skripals’ health since then has begun to improve rapidly.
Yulia, 33, has been discharged from Salisbury District Hospital, Christine Blanshard, medical director of the hospital, told reporters on Tuesday and her father could be discharged in due course.
“We have now discharged Yulia,” Ms Blanshard said. “This is not the end of her treatment, but marks a significant milestone.”
“Her father has also made good progress,” Ms Blanshard said.
“Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.”
Yulia has been taken to a secure location, the BBC said. The Sunday Times reported that Britain was considering giving the Skripals new identities and a fresh life in the United States.
Russia said it would consider any secret resettlement of the Skripals as an abduction of its citizens.