Russian soldier accused of killing Armenian family of 7 goes on trial
A Russian soldier accused of killing a family of seven in Armenia, including two children, went on trial for desertion Wednesday at a Russian army base in the former Soviet state.
Conscript soldier Valery Permyakov is accused of murdering a man and a woman and their grown-up son and daughter, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren at their home close to the Russian base in Gyumri, some 55 miles (89 kilometres) from the capital Yerevan.
Six of the victims, including the couple's two-year-old granddaughter were shot dead, while their six-month-old grandson was stabbed to death.
Permyakov's boots and Kalashnikov rifle were found at the scene. He was arrested after trying to flee to Turkey and has been held at the military base.
The crime prompted protests at the victims' funerals, with thousands gathering outside the Russian consulate in Gyumri and the military base to demand Permyakov be handed over to Armenian authorities instead of being court-martialled by Russia.
To appease Armenia, Russia agreed the military court would only try Permyakov in charges of desertion with a service weapon and stealing and illegally carrying a weapon and ammunition.
The murder case is to be heard by an Armenian court.
Permyakov pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the desertion and arms charges, the press secretary of the North Caucasus Military Court, Alyona Katkalo, told journalists.
The defendant sat in a glass dock, answering questions calmly in a low voice and showing no emotion.
Some 20 members of the public and journalists squeezed into the small courtroom, including around five relatives of the slain family, who wept.
"In the last two days, we have been preparing psychologically to see this murderer for the first time. It's very hard for us," said Rita Petrosyan, the sister of the dead father.
No date has been set yet for the soldier's murder trial.
© 2015 AFP