Germany Expels Two Diplomats, Russia Vows Retaliation
BERLIN - A German court has accused Russia of 'state terrorism' and expelled two Russian diplomats non grata after a German court found a Russian agent guilty of carrying out a hit on a former Chechen militant on German soil in 2019 due to the fact that he fought with the Chechen separatists against Russia.
Judges in Germany sentenced Russian Vadim Krasikov who went by the alias Vadim Sokolov life imprisonment for state terrorism after finding him guilty of the shooting death of Tornike Khangoshvili who was aged 40 in a park in Berlin during daylight hours on August 23rd, 2019.
Presiding judge Olaf Arnoldi agreed with the prosecution that the murder that was carried out had been carefully planned before being executed. Olaf stated that the murder was meant as 'retaliation' for being an opponent of Russia.
Arnoldi said that Krasikov flew to Paris for a few days before flying to Germany where the hit was carried out. He had a fake passport and thousands of euros for the getaway that he planned.
Khangoshvili was killed with three shots from a Glock pistol. Krasikov shot him twice as he was cycling through the park, then shot Khangoshvili in the head once before attempting to flee on the bicycle.
Witnesses overheard however and he was surrounded by armed police within minutes. The murder weapon, clothes and bicycle was found by divers in the nearby river where he had tossed them.
Krasikov had obtained the fake identification papers over a month before the hit happened, which showed the court that he had received help from Russia. Arnoldi noted that Russian law allows its agents to carry out assassination on what it calls 'terrorists' even if they are located in another country but that such an act requires the approval of the President.
Prosecutors stated that Krasikov was a "commander of a special unit of Russian secret services FSB" and said that he "He liquidated a political opponent".
"Khangashvili had given up the fight against the Russian Federation years before. He had not held a weapon in his hands since 2008. This was not an act of self-defence by Russia. This was and is nothing other than state terrorism" Arnoldi said.
Russia immediately rejected the verdict saying it was biased and politically motivated and seriously aggravates already strained Russian-German ties.
"We consider this verdict to be a biased, politically-motivated decision that seriously aggravates already difficult Russian-German relations" Russia's ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechayev stated.
After the verdict Germany expelled two Russian diplomats to protest what they believe was Russia's lack of cooperation during the investigation.
Russia denied any connection with the hit, saying that the expelling of two Russian diplomats for the murder is an 'obvious unfriendly step' and said that it was unwarranted, and won't 'be left without an appropriate response'.