No plant tox­ins in whistle­blower’s stom­ach

Cyprus Today - - UK -

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.

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