BERLIN (AP) — A court in Austria convicted a Russian man of murder Friday over the execution-style shooting death of a 43-year-old Chechen in a Vienna suburb last year that drew international attention amid claims the killing had been politically motivated.
A spokesman for the regional court in Korneuburg said jurors reached a unanimous verdict in the case during the one-day trial.
The defendant, a 48-year-old ethnic Chechen who wasn’t named for privacy reasons, was sentenced to life in prison, said court spokesman Wolfgang Schuster-Kramer.
The defense said it would appeal the verdict, he added.
Members of the Chechen exile community in Austria said the victim of the July 2020 slaying might have been targeted for criticizing the authoritarian leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov.
But the court was presented with no concrete evidence proving that the killing was politically motivated, said Schuster-Kramer.
Prosecutors said the victim was shot six times, including once in the head from a short distance, shortly after the men met at an industrial estate in Gerasdorf, northeast of Vienna. Blood from the victim and gunshot particles were found on the clothing of the defendant, who denied responsibility for the killing.
A defense lawyer instead blamed the shooting on the victim’s bodyguard, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.
There have been several attacks on Chechens abroad in recent years.
Another Russian man is on trial in Germany over the brazen daylight killing in Berlin of an ethnic Chechen from Georgia in 2019. The victim had fought Russian troops in Chechnya and fled to Germany in 2016. Prosecutors alleged that the suspect had been tasked with the killing by Russian authorities.
In February last year, Imran Aliyev, who ran a YouTube channel criticizing Kadyrov, was found stabbed to death in a hotel in Lille, France. That same month, another Chechen dissident, Tumru Abdurakhmanov, was attacked in Sweden.
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