When Theresa May said this in the House of Commons today:
While the extra-judicial killing of terrorists and dissidents outside Russia were given legal sanction by the Russian Parliament in 2006.”
she was either disgracefully uninformed or was intentionally misleading Parliament on the nature of the Russian laws in question.
Her words completely misrepresent the known and understood facts of the case.
Not only have two experts in Russian law given their view that the laws do not permit the extra-judicial killing of “dissidents” in the manner described, but a British judge ruled in agreement with this conclusion during the Litvinenko Inquiry.
These are the judge’s own words:
The only legal route to extra-territorial action against Mr Litvinenko was therefore under the Terrorism Law. However, action could only have been taken against Mr Litvinenko under this law had he been involved in, or no doubt suspected of involvement in, some form of terrorist activity. Article 3 of the Terrorism Law contains definitions of terrorism and terrorist acts that are broadly conventional, and certainly not as expansive as the definition of ‘extremism’ in the second of the 2006 laws. Mr Batmanov’s letter (above) states that, “Alexander Litvinenko did not make part of a terrorist organization and was not accused by Russian law enforcement bodies of having committed a terrorist crime.” That accords with my understanding of the evidence
On the basis of the evidence currently before me, and in light of the considerations set out above, I am therefore not persuaded that any action could have been taken by the FSB against Mr Litvinenko in 2006 under the terms of either of the 2006 laws.
Put simply, this means the two laws would not have legalised the killing of Litvinenko on foreign soil. And, by extension would not legalise the poisoning of Skripal either.
Alexander Mercouris, a former UK barrister and author of a lengthy study of the Litvinenko Inquiry (published by OffG here and cited above) had this to say to us about May’s words in Parliament today:
Theresa May…was the Home Secretary who – somewhat unwillingly – set up the Litvinenko inquiry, and to whom the inquiry report was formally addressed. It is difficult to believe therefore that she is unaware that there is a British judicial finding that the two Russian laws which were passed in 2006 do not authorise extra judicial assassination attempts such as the one the British say was carried out in 2006 against Litvinenko, or the one which the British say was recently carried out against Skripal – who had of course been previously pardoned for his crimes by the Russian state.
The question arises – if this part of May’s statement contained such a blatant inaccuracy, how much weight can be given to her other as yet unsubstantiated claims of Russian guilt?
Those currently excoriating Jeremy Corbyn for asking for evidence before endorsing what amounts to indirect declarations of war on a nuclear power, might want to consider this fact before continuing on their chosen path.
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