German prosecutors slapped with murder charges a Russian for killing in broad daylight a 40-year-old Georgian man in Berlin last year.
German federal prosecutors on Thursday filed charges of murder and violation of weapons laws versus Vadim K, also known as Vadim S.
The suspect claimed that the Russian state ordered Zelimkhan Khangoshvili’s assassination.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas still threatened Russia with possible sanctions, although Russia denied involvement, putting pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration to take a robust stance against Moscow.
“The circumstances behind the contract killing was the opposition of the victim to the Russian state, to the governments of its autonomous republics Chechnya and Ingushetia and the pro-Russian government of Georgia,” said the prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe.
Khangoshvili was a veteran of the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009 who fought against the Russians as a separatist and reportedly worked thereafter in both Georgia and Ukraine against Russian interests.
He was shot three times from behind in brazen daylight while the suspect was aboard a bicycle.
He was said to have survived multiple assassination attempts and continued to receive death threats even after fleeing to Germany in 2016. He was then denied asylum and was set for deportation.
The suspect was arrested near the scene shortly and has been under police custody ever since.
The suspect claimed that in July last year, the Russian state tasked him with “liquidating” the victim.
Prosecutors said the suspect accepted the assignment.
“He either hoped for a financial reward or he shared the motives of those who tasked him to kill a political opponent and take revenge for his participation in earlier conflicts with Russia,” they added.
A report by DW.com quoted the victim’s wife as saying that the killing may have been motivated by his husband’s personal history.
The wife said she remained convinced that Russia was responsible for her husband’s death, but added that she was hopeful that German authorities will bring the perpetrator to justice.
“We were warned that this would happen eventually,” she said.