GUMRI, Armenia (RFE/RL) — An Armenian judge has refused to move the trial of a Russian soldier accused of murdering an Armenian family of seven from a Russian military base to an Armenian court.
Judge Harutyun Movsisian announced his decision as the trial of Valery Permyakov resumed on January 18 in Gumri, where Russia’s 102nd Military Base is located. Permyakov was once stationed at the base and is currently jailed there on desertion charges.
Six members of the Avetisian family, including a 2-year-old girl, were found dead on January 12, 2015, in their home in Gumri. All the victims were shot dead or stabbed to death, and a 6-month-old boy who was stabbed in the attack died of his injuries a week later.
Permyakov, who was 18 at the time of the killings, was later detained near Armenia’s border with Turkey after fleeing the Russian base.
The slayings led to numerous — and sometimes violent — rallies in Gumri and Yerevan in which participants protested Russia’s military presence in the country and called 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.