A Russian soldier charged with killing a family of seven in Armenia has refused to make a closing argument and have his “last word” as the main proceedings in his high-profile trial were completed on Friday.
Armenian prosecutors demand a life sentence for Valery Permyakov, a 19-year-old conscript of the Russian military base in Armenia’s northwestern city of Gyumri, who did fully accept his guilt and said he regretted his deeds in the course of the nine-month-long trial.
A local middle-aged couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter were found shot dead in their home on January 12, 2015. The Avetisian family’s seventh member, a six-month-old baby boy, died of his stab wounds a week later.
Permyakov has admitted to 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.
A 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 Russian custody ever since being caught near an Armenian border village while allegedly trying to flee to neighboring Turkey. This circumstance, in particular, led to mass protests in Gyumri and Yerevan in January 2015 as people demanded that the investigation and trial of Permyakov be conducted by Armenian authorities and under Armenian law.
At the conclusion of the proceedings today Armenia’s leading human rights activist Artur Sakunts, who represents the interests of the legal successors of the Avetisian family, criticized the court for what he described as an improper examination of the case and “failure to [fully] detect the crime during nine months.”
In the course of the trial lawyers representing the Avetisian family’s relatives have raised questions over a number of circumstances of the case which they claimed left room for suspicions that Permyakov may not have acted alone. No evidence to disprove the version of the events presented by the prosecutors was produced during the trial, however.
To Sakunts, for example, the motive of the crime cited by the counsel for the prosecution, namely that Permyakov entered the Avetisian house to steal money in order to flee to Turkey, did not appear convincing enough.
“Stealing 6,000 drams [about $12] could not be a motive serious enough for killing seven people,” he asserted. “The motive is not revealed, and, in fact, the crime is not revealed either.”
The court is due to deliver the verdict and sentence in the case on August 23.