Russian soldier pleads guilty to murder of Armenian family

Russian soldier pleads guilty to murder of Armenian family

PanARMENIAN.Net - The suspect in the Gyumri massacre, Russian soldier Valeriy Permyakov pleaded guilty to the murder.

Six members of the Avetisyan family, including a 2-year-old girl, were found dead on January 12, 2015, in their home in Gyumri. All the victims were shot or stabbed; a 6-month-old boy, stabbed in the attack, died of injuries a week later.

Permyakov, who was 18 at the time of the killings, was detained near Armenia’s border with Turkey after fleeing the Russian base.

The slayings led to numerous — and sometimes violent — rallies in Gyumri and Yerevan where the participants protested Russia’s military presence in the country, calling for Permyakov to be tried in Armenian courts rather than by Russian military judges.

In August, a Russian military court found Permyakov guilty of desertion and sentenced him to 10 years in jail. The soldier pleaded guilty to charges of desertion with weapons, stealing firearms and ammunition, and illegally carrying weapons.

However, the trial did not address the killings themselves, and Permyakov was handed to Armenian officials to face murder charges.

On January 18, lawyers for the victims asked Judge Movsisyan to allow moving the location of the civilian trial to a regular Armenian court; the request, however, was rejected.

Movsisyan also declined the lawyers’ call to excuse himself from the case, adjourning the trial until January 22. The lawyers had accused Movsisyan of acting under outside influence.

Permyakov, who is being defended by a court-appointed lawyer, was directly asked twice if he would agree for the trial to be moved outside the Russian base.

At first, Permyakov said the location of the trial made no difference to him. However, when asked the second time, he said he felt safer on the premises of the Russian base.

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