Original article (in Serbian) was published on 05/05/2023
Yesterday, several media outlets, from Republika to Daily Mail, published a photograph allegedly showing K.K., a minor suspected of killing nine people on Wednesday at the “Vladislav Ribnikar” elementary school in Belgrade. In the photo, the young man is making a gun gesture with his fingers. However, the sportsman from Ireland, Edvin Hotea, said yesterday on his TikTok that the photo features him, not K.K., and said that it was created in 2020. Confirmation that the photo really shows Hotea came to us from the sports club ABS Powerlifting from Ireland, for which this young man competes.
“Yes, this is Edwin. Someone stole his photo from an old account some time ago”, the Dublin-based ABS Powerlifting club told Raskrikavanje. Hotea, as can be seen on his Instagram account, trains for this club. And Istinomer published information from the Irish Powerlifting Federation website about Hotea performing as a member of ABS Powerlifting.
Hotea did not respond to Raskrikavanje until the moment of publication of this text, but yesterday during the day he shared a video on his TikTok account in which he says that he is the young man in the photo. He also showed a screenshot of his phone, showing a photo album: there are other photos taken on the same occasion with these three, and the exact date and time of the photo are also visible.
“This photo is in my album from January 25, 2020, it’s in my phone, it was taken with my phone. Here is a photo from the same angle, in the same place, everything is the same, only the poses are different. And it is on my phone”, he said.
He assumes that someone downloaded the photo from Pinterest, and it was posted there at least two years ago, as can be seen from the two-year-old comment.
“Obviously, that is not me”, he said, referring to the photo of K.K. from the school yearbook that was reported by the media. “I’m not 14 years old, clearly, and I’m not from Serbia. If you could report every video like this you come across, I would really appreciate it”, appealed this guy on his TikTok.
There are several shots from the powerlifting competition on his Instagram, in which his face is clearly visible, i.e. it can be seen that it is the same young man who is in the controversial photo.
The mentioned photo is circulating both on social networks and in the media, but it is not possible to determine for sure who planted it first. It was published by many: Republika, Informer, Pink, Novosti, Alo, Srbija Danas, Kurir, and others, and some have since deleted it. It was also published by the British tabloid Daily Mail, but they also removed the text in the meantime.
Updated May 5 at 4:26 p.m.: The original text featured the quote “Obviously this is not me. I’m not 14 years old, clearly, and I’m not from Serbia”. A reader on Twitter drew our attention to the fact that the quote was confusing, so we specified that “Obviously this is not me” was said by a young man from Ireland while showing a photo of K.K.