LONDON (REUTERS) - A nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may have left them with compromised mental capacity and it is unclear whether they will recover, a British judge said on Thursday (March 22) in a ruling.
The Skripals were found slumped on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4 and British Prime Minister says they had been deliberately targeted with a nerve toxin by Russia, a charge Moscow rejects.
On Thursday, a London court granted permission for blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for examination by chemical weapons inspectors to confirm the conclusion of Britain's Porton Down military research laboratory.
Giving his ruling, Judge David Williams said an unidentified consultant who is treating the Skripals said they were both heavily sedated, unable to communicate and that it was not possible to say when or to what extent either may regain mental capacity.
They were both in a physically stable condition and were being treated "on the basis they would wish to be kept alive", the consultant said, according to Williams' ruling at the London's Court of Protection, which makes decision over the welfare of people who are unable to do so themselves.
"The precise effect of their exposure on their long term health remains unclear albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree," Williams said in his judgement.
He said an unnamed analyst from Porton Down had given evidence that blood samples taken from the Skripals indicated exposure to a nerve agent.
"The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent," the ruling said.