The Russian soldier convicted of murdering an Armenian family of seven in Gyumri more than two years ago may serve his life sentence in Russia, the Armenian Ministry of Justice indicated on Tuesday.
The soldier, Valery Permyakov, has admitted gunning down a middle-aged couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter in their home in January 2015. The Avetisian family’s seventh member, a 6-month-old baby boy, was stabbed and fatally wounded.
A Russian military court sentenced Permyakov to 10 years in prison for desertion and theft of firearms and ammunition in a short trial held in August 2015. His main, Armenian trial on murder charges began shortly afterwards.
A court in Gyumri sentenced the conscript to life imprisonment in August 2016. Armenia’s Court of Appeals upheld the guilty verdict in December.
Permyakov has been kept in custody at the Gyumri headquarters of a Russian military base in Armenia ever since he was arrested on the Armenian-Turkish border hours after the gruesome killings.
“Since both Armenian and Russian courts have handed down verdicts regarding Valery Permyakov, right now the [Armenian] Ministry of Justice is discussing the practical modalities of his imprisonment,” the ministry spokeswoman, Lusine Martirosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Through these discussions we want to make sense of legal grounds for organizing his serving his prison sentences.”
Martirosian said that the discussions are involving only ministry officials. She could not say when they will make relevant recommendations. It is not yet known where Permyakov will serve his jail terms, added the official.
The Interfax news agency reported on Monday that Permyakov’s Armenian lawyer, Eduard Aghajanian, did not exclude that his client will be sent to a prison in Russia.
Officials in Moscow said in the immediate aftermath of the shock killings that Permyakov can only be tried by a Russian court because Russia’s constitution prohibits extradition of Russian nationals to foreign states. That caused outrage among many Armenians fearing a Russian cover-up of the massacre.
Thousands of them demonstrated in Gyumri in January 2015 to demand Permyakov’s handover to the Armenian side. Some of them clashed with riot police outside the local Russian consulate. The Russian authorities eventually agreed to place the murder case under Armenian jurisdiction.