An Armenian prosecutor demanded on Friday life imprisonment for a Russian soldier who has pleaded guilty to murdering an Armenian family of seven in the country’s second largest city of Gyumri last year.
A local middle-aged couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter were found shot dead in their home in January 2015. The Avetisian family’s seventh member, a 6-month-old baby boy, died of his stab wounds a week later.
Valery Permyakov, a Russian soldier who served in a Russian military base in Gyumri, has admitted killing them shortly after deserting his unit earlier that day. He told Russian and Armenian investigators last year that he had grown homesick and wanted to reunite with his family living in a small town in Siberia.
Russian military tribunal sentenced Permyakov to 10 years in prison for desertion in August 2015.
His main, Armenian trial on murder charges began later in 2015 in a makeshift courtroom built inside the Russian military headquarters in Gyumri. Permyakov has been kept in custody there ever since being caught near an Armenian border village while allegedly trying to flee to neighboring Turkey.
One of the trial prosecutors said during the latest court hearing that the 20-year-old conscript should be given a life sentence because of the gravity of the crime and the absence of any “mitigating circumstances” in the case.
The trial adjourned until August 19 after Permyakov’s Armenian lawyer, Eduard Aghajanian, asked the presiding judge, Harutyun Movsisian, for more time to prepare his concluding remarks. The defendant, who has barely spoken during the trial, will also have a chance to deliver a speech before the verdict.
Lawyers for relatives of the massacre victims demanded a longer break, arguing that a higher Armenian court is now considering their appeal against Movsisian’s decision to refuse hefty financial compensation demanded by them from the Russian state.
The lawyers walked out of the courtroom in protest after Movsisian rejected their petition. They said they will boycott further court hearings in the high-profile case.
The two daughters of the murdered couple and the parents of the Avetisians’ slain daughter-in-law demanded 450,000 euros ($500,000) in damages in their civil lawsuit rejected by the judge. Their attorneys said Russian military authorities bear responsibility for the killings because they had decided to send Permyakov to Armenia despite his history of mental disorders and repeated desertions from his previous army unit stationed in Siberia.