LONDON – British police said on Saturday that search teams found more than 400 items as part of the poisoning investigation of two Britons by nerve agent Novichok, but it is likely that the searches many more weeks while the officers look for additional evidence.
The Metropolitan Police announced an advance in the case on Friday when they said they had found a small bottle believed to be the source of the nerve agent that killed Dawn Sturgess and made Charlie Rowley ill. The bottle was found at Rowley's home in Amesbury, a town southwest of Salisbury, where British authorities say former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with Novichok in March.
Britain blames the Russian government for the March attack, an accusation that the Kremlin has denied. The case caused Western nations, including the United States and Great Britain, to expel dozens of Russian diplomats and Russia to retaliate with similar expulsions.
Police are trying to determine whether the substance in the bottle, confirmed by scientists like Novichok, came from the same lot used in the attack against the Skripals. They are also investigating where the bottle came from and how it entered Rowley's house.
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the search process related to both this and the Salisbury research has been one of the most complex and" The force said that, in total, the search teams recovered more than 400 " exhibits, exhibits and articles "linked to the investigation into poisoning," said Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Basu, the most important counterterrorism officer in Britain
of Sturgess and Rowley, said a "significant number" of the articles are potentially contaminated and have been sent to the laboratories for badysis.
Sturgess, 44, and Rowley, 45, became ill on June 30. Sturgess died in a hospital on July 8. Rowley was in critical condition for more than a week, but regained consciousness.
Police said earlier that they suspected the couple had tampered with a container contaminated with Novichok and had no reason to think that they were deliberately attacked.
The difficulties the police face with the investigation, Basu, said that each search must be meticulously planned to ensure that the traces of the lethal agent do not leak. The suits of protection for each officer take 40 minutes to put on and take off, and can only work in short bursts due to heat and exhaustion.
"We are not only trying to solve an extremely serious crime that has been committed, but we are also working to identify any possible pending risks for the public, while guaranteeing that all those involved in the search process are not exposed to No risk of contamination, "he said.
Officials say that Novichok, produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, could remain active for 50 years if kept in a sealed container
The Skripals survived and were released from a Salisbury hospital before Rowley and Sturgess were poisoned and taken there. The British authorities have taken the Skripals to a secret place protected for their safety.
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