UK & World News
Open Verdict In Berezovsky Death Inquest
An inquest into the death of Russian tycoon and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky has ended with an open verdict.
British coroner Peter Bedford told the inquest at Windsor Guildhall there was not enough evidence to conclude how Mr Berezovsky died.
Mr Bedford said: "I am not saying Mr Berezovsky took his own life, I am not saying Mr Berezovsky was unlawfully killed.
"What I am saying is that the burden of proof sets such a high standard it is impossible for me to say."
The Russian businessman, 67, was found dead with a ligature around his neck in the bathroom of a mansion in Ascot, Berkshire, owned by his ex-wife in March last year.
He was a known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, prompting speculation he may have been murdered.
Thursday's verdict followed two days of evidence from investigators and family members.
Home Office pathologist Dr Simon Poole told the inquest Mr Berezovsky's injuries were "consistent with hanging".
Dr Poole, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said there was no sign of a violent struggle, adding: "These injuries were extensively looked for."
The hearing also heard evidence that Mr Berezovsky showed signs of depression prior to his death.
Associates told the inquest that he became a "broken man" after a hugely costly legal defeat to fellow Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
The businessman was reported to have spoken of suicide on several occasions.
However, evidence pointing to suicide was called into question when an expert on hanging and asphyxiation cases said he believed Mr Berezovsky had been strangled.
Professor Bernd Brinkmann said: "In my view there is no way for death by hanging."
He told the hearing there was evidence to suggest two people were involved in the death of the businessman, who was known to have survived two assassination attempts.
Firstly, the marks on his neck were "far away from the typical inverse 'V' shape" usually seen in hanging cases, Professor Brinkmann said. Secondly, congestion to Mr Berezovsky's face was not consistent with being hanged.
His daughter also revealed that Mr Berezovsky expressed concerns he had been poisoned in the days after the legal battle, which she had put down to his depression.
Elizaveta Berezovskaya said her father was "a serious political figure" who could be a target for assassination.
In statements read out by Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford, she said she initially believed her father had committed suicide, but later developed doubts.
Specialists have said toxicology tests found traces of prescription medicines, including drugs for insomnia and depression, however none of them were likely to have contributed to his death.
Mr Berezovsky made his fortune in Russia in the early 1990s when he bought up state assets which were being sold off cheaply.
He fled Russia in 2001, after falling out with Mr Putin, and set up home in Britain.
In 2009 his wealth was estimated at £450m, but he is reported to have spent more than £100m on legal bills during his subsequent battle with Mr Abramovich.
Thames Valley Police said after the inquest that an investigation had found no evidence of third-party involvement. The coroner had not requested further inquiries take place, the force added.