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10 Mar, 2010 18:15

Boris Berezovsky wins libel case against Russian state TV over Litvinenko case

A British High Court has ruled there is no evidence linking self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky to the murder of former Russian security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, who was poisoned in 2006.

Boris Berezovsky filed a lawsuit against Russian State TV and Radio Company (VGTRK) after a 2007 report that claimed he was involved in the poisoning of the former security officer and friend of the tycoon.

However, the judge found no evidence proving Berezovsky could have been linked to the murder and ruled the broadcaster should pay damages of 150,000 pounds.

But the channel says the ruling is illegal, claiming journalists were denied access to the court after refusing to disclose their sources.

“Just before the hearing, the court decided to ban our broadcasting company from taking part in it. So we were actually deprived of our right of defense in court. I will appeal the court's decision and go as far as the European Court of Human rights,” lawyer of VGTRK, Zoya Matveevskaya told RT.

The company's Deputy Director General, Dmitry Kiselev, said the court's decision violates international conventions of freedom of speech.

Boris Berezovsky was satisfied with the ruling and underlined that British justice had never held him responsible for the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko, the website of Ekho Moskvy radio station reported.

“Most likely it’s yet another bluff,” Berezovsky said, regarding the TV company’s intention to file an appeal, while speaking on the radio. “To go to Strasbourg one needs to go through all the levels in the country where the proceeding is taking place. Since Russian State TV and Radio Company didn’t get involved in the process here [in Great Britain], they don’t have a legal basis to go to Strasbourg.”

The tycoon also added that, apart from damage payments, he was also going to seek compensation for expenses and court costs of 2 million pounds.