UK releases new clips of Russian nerve agent attack suspects

The clips show the pair taking photographs (AFP pic)

LONDON: British police have released CCTV footage of two suspected Russian intelligence agents walking toward Sergei Skripal’s home on the day of the former spy’s poisoning with a nerve agent.

The clips show the Russians — known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — appearing to take photographs on their arrival in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped unconscious on a park bench that same afternoon.

British police believe they were poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok designed by Moscow specifically to conduct assassinations abroad.

Russia denies that the two men are members of its GRU military intelligence service. It also says the Novichok could have come from a nearby British or some other laboratory.

The Skripals survived but a local woman named Dawn Sturgess died after picking up a discarded perfume bottle that police think was used to carry out the attack.

Senior counterterrorism coordinator Dean Haydon said investigators were trying to determine what happened to the perfume bottle between March 4 and June 27, the day it was found.

“We remain as determined as ever to identify and bring to justice all those responsible for the reckless acts that left four people critically ill and, tragically, saw Dawn Sturgess lose her life,” Haydon said in a statement late Thursday.

Police said one of the new CCTV clips shows the two suspects walking in the vicinity of Skripal’s home address “just prior to when detectives believe the nerve agent was placed on the door handle”.

Investigators think the two sprayed the handle of the main door of Skripal’s home with Novichok before tossing the perfume bottle on the street.

A local police detective Nick Bailey also came in contact with the poison while investigating the scene.

He told the BBC in a programme aired Thursday that he knew something was wrong when his “pupils were like pinpricks” and he became “quite sweaty and hot”.

“Knowing how the other two (the Skripals) were or how badly they’d been affected by it, I was petrified,” said Bailey.