German court hands life term to Russian over ‘contract killing’

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BERLIN, DEC 15: A court in Germany has sentenced a Russian man to life in prison for shooting dead a Georgian of Chechen ethnicity in a Berlin park two years ago.

The court found Vadim Krasikov guilty of gunning down Zelimkhan Khangoshvili at close range in August 2019.

Judges said the Russian state had ordered the murder, which it denies.

Wednesday’s verdict could damage already strained relations between Germany and Russia.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the murder as a serious violation of German law and sovereignty.

She said Russian ambassador Sergei Nechayev had been summoned and told that two members of his embassy staff were now unwelcome in Germany.

In an earlier statement Mr Nechayev said the verdict was a “politically-motivated decision”.

Khangoshvili – who lived for a time under the name Tornike Kavtarashvili – was shot dead in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park on 23 August, 2019.

The 40-year-old Georgian national was a Chechen rebel commander between 2000 and 2004, when Chechnya was fighting a war of independence against Russia.