Almost 16 years after the poisoning of Kremlin opponent Alexander Litvinenko in London, the accused by the British judiciary, Dmitry Kovtun, is dead. The businessman died at the age of 57 as a result of a corona disease, the Russian state agency Tass reported on Saturday. Kovtun, who had lived in Germany for a while, is said to have killed Litvinenko with the polonium-210 ray poison. Another suspect, Andrei Lugowoj, who is a member of parliament in Russia, confirmed the death on his Telegram news channel.

“My close and loyal friend Dmitri Kovtun passed away prematurely. This is an irreplaceable and heavy loss for us,” said Lugovoy. He and Kovtun are suspected by the British judiciary to have killed the former Russian secret service agent Litvinenko in 2006 with the radioactive substance polonium 210. From his sickbed, Litvinenko accused Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin of being behind the assassination. He died in November 2006 in the worst torment as a result of the radiation.

The pictures of the visibly marked radiation victim went around the world at the time. Kovtun, Lugovoy and the Russian authorities have denied having anything to do with the death. Former intelligence agent Lugovoy and Kovtun met Litvinenko for tea at the Millennium Hotel in London’s chic Mayfair district. According to a British investigative report, Litvinenko, who was considered a traitor in the Kremlin, was poisoned there.

Before the attack, Kovtun had visited his German ex-wife in Hamburg and, as it later turned out, left a trail of polonium through the city. The officer applied for asylum in Germany in 1991. Like Lugovoy, he returned to Russia after the crime and evaded British justice. The British arrest warrants against him and Lugovoy could never be executed.

Litvinenko was one of the Kremlin’s harshest critics. Among other things, he had accused the domestic secret service FSB, for which he had worked, of being responsible for bombings on residential buildings in Russia, which were supposed to provide a pretext for the second Chechen war in 1999.