Bern rejects joint Russian probe into Skripal case

An exterior view on the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague Keystone

Switzerland opposes Russia’s proposal for a joint inquiry into the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom, the Swiss foreign affairs ministry has told Swiss public television, SRF.

This content was published on April 6, 2018 - 12:05

The proposal for a UK-Russia probe was voted down by members of the international chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at The Hague on Wednesday. Switzerland is a member of the OPCW.

Russia had called the meeting to challenge the UK, which has blamed Moscow for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, southern England. Russia has strongly denied any involvement.

Russia proposed a joint investigation into the poisoning as it was not invited to participate in an independent probe being carried out by the OPCW at Britain’s request, results of which are due next week. It lost the vote on the issue by 15 votes to six, while 17 member states abstained.

The poisoning incident has had major diplomatic repercussions, with the expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats by the UK and its allies and counter-expulsions by Moscow.

On its decision, the Swiss foreign ministry told SRF in a written statement in a story published Thursday evening that: “Switzerland is of the opinion that it is the sovereign right of the United Kingdom to investigate the use of a chemical weapon on its territory as it sees fit.”

It also pointed to the current OPCW investigation. A joint probe by Russia and the UK would effectively be “at this point equal to a vote of no confidence for the work of the OPCW and the British authorities”, it said.

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