Russian convicted of murder in Vienna of Chechen blogger Mamikhan Umarov
A Russian man was convicted of murder in an Austrian court for the shooting-style execution of a Chechen blogger in a suburb of Vienna last year.
The accused, identified only as a 48-year-old Chechen, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Korneuburg regional court on Friday.
On July 4 last year, ex-policeman Mamikhan Umarov was shot dead outside an industrial area in Gerasdorf, north of Vienna.
Members of the Chechen community in exile in Austria said they believed the murder was politically motivated.
Umarov, who left Chechnya in 2005, posted numerous YouTube videos criticizing the authoritarian leader of the semi-autonomous Chechen Republic in Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov.
But spokesman Wolfgang Schuster-Kramer said on Friday that the court had presented “no concrete evidence” that the murder had a political motive.
He added that the defense had said it would appeal the reason. During the case, a defense lawyer blamed Umarov’s bodyguard for the shooting.
Prosecutors said the 43-year-old was shot six times, including one in the head at close range, shortly after the men met in the industrial area. Blood and particles of bullets were later found on the accused’s clothing.
There have been several fatal attacks against Chechens abroad in recent years. A Russian is on trial in Germany for the daylight murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Chechen from Georgia, in Berlin in 2019.
Khangoshvili, 40, was a former insurgent rebel commander who fought Russian troops in Chechnya before fleeing to Germany in 2016.
In February last year, Imran Aliyev, who also ran a YouTube channel criticizing Kadyrov, was found stabbed to death in a hotel in Lille, France.
In the same month, another popular Chechen dissident blogger, Tumru Abdurakhmanov, survived an attack on his life in his apartment in the Swedish town of Gävle.
Around 130,000 Chechen refugees and asylum seekers are believed to reside in European countries, many of whom are victims of violence and human rights abuses under the Kadyrov regime in Chechnya.