Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
London, United Kingdom (4E) – Russia is again expected to deny any involvement in the death of 44 year-old Dawn Sturgess on Sunday from Novichok, the Russian-made nerve poison used last March in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The Skripals survived the attempt on their lives, however.
Still in serious condition and with little hope of survival is 45 year-old Charlie Rowley. Like Sturgess, Rowley hails from the town of Amesbury in southwest England, some 11 km from Salisbury where the Skripals were poisoned. Sturgess and Rowley were taken ill on June 30 after somehow coming in contact with the source of the Novichok used in the attack on the Skripals.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was appalled and shocked by the death. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of UK Counter Terrorism Command, said Sturgess’ death was “shocking and tragic news.”
Her death is being investigated as a murder by the Wiltshire Police. Leading the investigation, however, is the Counter Terrorism Policing Network. Some 100 detectives are working round the clock alongside colleagues from the Wiltshire Police.
Interior minister Sajid Javid said police are intent on discovering how Sturgess and Rowley were exposed to the nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The poisoning of the Skripals with Novichok was the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since World War 2.
“Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this extremely difficult time,” said Basu.
When they were found unconscious, Sturgess and Rowley were initially thought to have taken an overdose of heroin or crack cocaine. Tests by the Ministry of Defense’s Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, however, showed they were poisoned by Novichok. The UK has notified the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), about the case of Sturgess and Rowley.
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