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Litvinenko waiter recalls when tea was poisoned

August 14, 2007

The man who served Alexander Litvinenko's table at the Millennium Hotel in London is speaking out for the first time about the events that led to poisoning and death of Mr. Litvinenko.

Norberto Andrade, 67, believes that he was deliberately distracted as he tried to serve drinks to the table where Mr. Litvinenko was sitting with three other men identified as Russian businessman and former KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi and two other Russians, Vyacheslav Sokolenko and Dmitry Kovtun.

Recalling the extraordinary events of November 1, 2006, Mr. Andrade, the head barman of the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel said "When I was delivering gin and tonic to the table, I was obstructed. I couldn't see what was happening, but it seemed very deliberate to create a distraction. It made it difficult to put the drink down."

Andrade continued, "It was the only moment when the situation seemed unfriendly and something went on at that point. I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr. Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been spayed."

Later after Andrade cleared the table he noticed that the remaining contents of the teapot had turned a "funny color." He also noticed that the tea looked thicker than usual.

Litvinenko died in agony on November 23 and in a deathbed statement accused the Russian president, Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination.