German prosecutors have asked for life imprisonment for the main suspect in the murder of Georgian national Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten Park in 2019, German news service Tagesschau reported on December 7.
German Federal Prosecutors, Nikolaus Forschner and Lars Malskies told justices their plea for the most severe punishment under German Law was justified as the suspect carried out a politically motivated murder, that was equivalent to execution, on behalf of Russian government agencies.
The murder of Khangoshvili, who was labeled as a terrorist by Russia, the prosecution argued, was retaliation, not “preventive killing” as he did not pose threat to the country since he moved to Germany in 2016. Also, the prosecution noted that Russian authorities had not made an extradition request for Khangoshvili in order to bring him to justice for possible criminal offenses.
Russian leadership “radically disregarded the rule of law” by committing the act on German soil, Tagesschau cited prosecutor Forschner. The murder also calls into question Germany’s sovereignty and monopoly on violence within its borders, according to the prosecution.
Besides the murder shaking people’s sense of security and justice in Germany, the crime also intended to deprive Chechens and other Russian citizens living in Germany of the sense of being safe from the Kremlin in Germany, the prosecution stressed.
The Prosecutors also asked to declare that suspect’s guilt was of particular gravity – which would, among others, prevent future suspension of the defendant’s prison sentence on probation. The German Criminal Code in some cases allows the court to change life imprisonment to probation after a convicted person serves fifteen years of their sentence.
According to Tagesschau, judges may deliver a ruling in the case in the coming week, before December 25.
The suspect, recently identified by a witness as Vadim Krasikov, allegedly arrived in Germany under the cover identity of Vadim Sokolov. He was arrested in hot pursuit after the crime. The man has continuously refused to identify as Krasikov, insisting Sokolov is his true identity.
Khangoshvili (also known as Tornike Kavtarashvili), 40, was an ethnic Kist/Chechen from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge who participated in the Second Chechen War, as well as in the 2008 August War between Georgia and Russia, fighting against the Russian forces. He survived an assassination attempt in Tbilisi in 2015 and fled to Germany afterward.
The killing has also stirred diplomatic tensions between the EU countries and Russia. In December 2019, Germany expelled two employees of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, accusing them of failing to cooperate with the inquiry.
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