Berlin trial begins after suspected contract killing linked to Russia

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A 55-year-old Russian man on Wednesday went on trial in Berlin  for a shooting in the capital last year described by Germany’s attorney general as a contract killing ordered by the Russian State.

The outcome of the long-awaited murder trial could have a significant impact on Germany’s already strained relationship with Russia.

On Aug. 23, 2019, a 40-year-old Georgian man of Chechen descent was shot dead in broad daylight by an attacker on a bicycle in Berlin’s central Moabit district. The firearm had been fitted with a silencer.

The suspect was apprehended that same day and has been in custody since. He allegedly came to Germany under a false name shortly before committing the crime.

The victim is said to have fought against Russia on the side of Muslim Chechens in the early 2000s and was a designated terrorist in Russia. He had come to Germany as an asylum seeker in late 2016.

The killing caused a diplomatic storm between the Kremlin and the German government.

In 2019, Berlin expelled two Russian diplomats, alleging that Russia had not been willing to cooperate in investigating the crime.

Moscow responded by expelling two German diplomats.

In June, Germany’s attorney general indicted the suspected killer and said he had been working in the service of “state agencies of the central government of the Russian Federation.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised further consequences if the Russian government is proved to be involved in the killing.

The trial is taking place at the capital’s criminal court in Moabit, where access to the press and public is limited to allow for coronavirus-related distancing measures.

Spots for journalists were drawn by lot, and audio of the proceedings will be broadcast in a separate media room due to the limited space in the court.

NAN

– Oct. 7, 2020 @ 17:14 GMT /

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