BERLIN (AP) — A Berlin court said Monday that none of the parties has appealed against the verdict in the diplomatically sensitive trial of a Russian man who was convicted earlier this month of what judges concluded was the state-ordered killing of a Chechen man.
The verdict on Dec. 15 prompted Germany’s foreign minister to expel two Russian diplomats. A few days later, Russia in turn ordered two German diplomats to leave.
The brazen daylight killing in Berlin of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity, sparked outrage in Germany and prompted the German government to expel two other Russian diplomats at the time — a move Russia swiftly reciprocated.
Judges at Berlin’s regional court convicted 56-year-old Vadim Krasikov of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Defense lawyers had asked the court to acquit their client, who claimed a case of mistaken identity. The judges said Krasikov bore “particularly grave responsibility” for the slaying, meaning he won’t be entitled to the automatic parole after 15 years that is customary in Germany.
Witnesses saw the suspect throw a bike, a gun and a long, dark wig into the Spree River near the scene and alerted police, who quickly arrested him before he could make off on an electric scooter.
The judges, however, said Krasikov had acted on the orders of Russian federal authorities, who provided him with a false identity, a fake passport and the resources to carry out the hit near Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park on Aug. 23, 2019.
Presiding judge Olaf Arnoldi said in delivering the verdict that “the central government of the Russian Federation was the author of this crime.” He labeled the killing “state terrorism.”
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the killing a “grave breach of German law and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany.”
German law allows for all sides in a trial to appeal within a week of the verdict, but the court said that no one did so.