A witness from Ukraine confirmed before the German court the identity of Vadim Krasikov, the main suspect in killing Georgian national Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten Park in 2019.
According to German media reports, the witness identified the suspect as Vadim Krasikov, his brother-in-law, only during his second witness testimony before the first-instance court.
The witness, identified by media as V., reportedly failed to positively identify Krasikov during his first testimony back in July. But he volunteered to testify again, and cited concerns over witness protection, particularly facing retaliation risks from Russia, as causes behind his initial reluctance.
V. was further quoted as recalling conversations and encounters with Krasikov implying his possible links with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), such as bringing t-shirts of the FSB’s “Vympel” unit during one of the family visits.
Khangoshvili (also known as Tornike Kavtarashvili), 40, was gunned down in broad daylight in the German capital on August 23, 2019. A Georgian of Chechen descent, he fled to Germany after surviving an assassination attempt in Tbilisi in 2015.
Krasikov, who allegedly arrived in Germany under the cover identity of Vadim Sokolov, was arrested in hot pursuit after the crime and later charged with murdering Khangoshvili on “Russian central authorities’ orders.” He had continuously refused to identify as Krasikov, insisting Sokolov was his true identity.
While German prosecution is said to possess enough evidence, including forensic data, about the suspect’s involvement in the crime, questions have revolved around his unverified true identity and alleged links to the Russian state.
A series of investigations by independent agencies such as Bellingcat, The Insider, and Der Spiegel from 2019-2021 helped identify the suspect and link his personality with Russian security and intelligence services. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, should the suspect’s identity be established as Krasikov, it may lead to state terrorism accusations against Russia.
The killing has already led to diplomatic tensions of the EU countries with Russia. In December 2019, Germany expelled two employees of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, blaming them for failure to cooperate with the inquiry.
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