In a final decision on Monday, a Greek appeals court ruled that the murder of Pakistani labourer Shehzad Luqman, aged 27, will go down in the country's legal annals as the first racially-motivated crime against life.
In its ruling on the murder of Luqman in 2013, the court handed down guilty verdicts of intentional homicide for both the defendants, upholding the decision of a lower court, in accordance with articles of the penal code concerning hate crimes motivated by the victim's perceived differences from the assailant.
According to the court prosecutor, the sole motive of the two defendants, Dionysis Liakopoulos and Christos Stergiopoulos, when they stabbed their victim seven times in the early hours of January 17, 2013 was "an obsessive ideation of racial superiority".
"The choice of victim was due to his racial characteristics and origins," the presiding judge said, reading out the court's reasoning for the verdict. The court did not link the actions of the two defendants to the far-right party Golden Dawn but with "the fact that both defendants knew they were attacking a foreign national."
Both men convicted of the murder are also on trial in the ongoing criminal organisation case against Golden Dawn.
Six years after the Luqman murder first came to court, initially as a death following an argument "over inconsequential reasons", it is now being treated as the first hate crime culminating in murder to come before the criminal courts at both primary and appeals' level in Greece.
Based on the evidence presented in court, the two defendants attacked Luqman as he was going to work in the market on his bicycle. While initially claiming that there had been some sort of argument with Luqman the previous night, according to the prosecutor the evidence indicated that the attack was entirely unprovoked and the two "had been determined to find a foreign national...and show him that he was not welcome here."
The two had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a first-instance court, which had also referred to the crime as racist, though it was initially filed as an ordinary homicide without reference to racial motives.
At the request of the two defendants defence lawyers, sentencing has been postponed until a later hearing in anticipation of a new penal code. The trial is due to resume.