London: Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky was found with a "ligature around his neck" and a piece of similar material on a shower rail in his British home, an inquest into his death heard on Thursday. The 67-year-old Kremlin critic, who survived numerous assassination attempts, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur, was found dead on Saturday in his sprawling property in Ascot, an affluent town a few kilometres from Queen Elizabeth's Windsor Castle.
A post-mortem examination by a Home Office pathologist had found his death was "consistent with hanging" and there was no sign of "violent struggle". At the opening of the inquest, Detective Inspector Mark Bissell of Thames Valley Police confirmed Berezovsky was found with a "ligature around his neck and a piece of similar material on the shower rail above him".
The inquest was opened and adjourned by Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford at the Guildhall in Windsor on Thursday. The Windsor Coroner's Court office also confirmed that Berezovsky's daughter, Elizaveta Berezovskaya, had formally identified the body of her father, who was referred to during Thursday's proceedings as Platon Elemin, as the self-exiled tycoon had changed his name by deed poll in 2003.
Bissell confirmed that the scene of the death is currently under police control and the results of any tests carried out will take several weeks, adding that the involvement of a third party "cannot be completely eliminated as tests remain outstanding". Berezovsky could have been dead for up to 18 hours before he was found by his bodyguard. "He was last seen alive at approximately 9.05pm on the evening of 22 March by the same employee (who discovered him on Saturday afternoon)," Bissell added. The coroner said that once he had appropriate information from Berezovsky's family he will sign a certificate allowing for a funeral to take place.