Three teenage sisters who knifed to death their ‘rapist’ father are to be charged with murder in a high-profile case, sparking an outcry from Russian lawyers and human rights activists.
Two out of the three, Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan, could be jailed for between eight and 20 years even though official investigation experts testified that they were repeatedly tortured, sexually abused and raped by their father.
The youngest sister, Maria, 17, was found not to understand her actions when she was part of an alleged ‘group’ conspiracy to stab their ‘controlling paedophile father’ Mikhail Khachaturyan, 57, through the heart with his own hunting knife.
As a result, Maria will not face jail whatever the verdict.
Mikhail Khachaturyan (left) was stabbed to death in Moscow by his three daughters (Angelina, pictured right) last year, and to the dismay of psychiatric experts and defence lawyers all three will be stand trial for murder
Evidence has emerged that Mikhail raped Krestina, 20, (left) and slashed Maria, 17, (right) with a knife
In July last year they girls attacked their father with a hunting knife, he was stabbed through the heart and died in their Moscow apartment
Lawyers had pressed for the murder allegations to be dropped against all the sisters or mitigated by recategorising the case as causing death by ‘self defence’.
The three – aged 19, 18 and 17 when he was killed – were earlier released from custody on a judge’s order amid signs that the criminal investigation in the high profile case saw them as victims of sustained longterm abuse by their ‘bullying mafia boss father’.
Now the decision to go ahead with a full-scale murder trial has dismayed their lawyers and human rights campaigners in Russia.
The move comes despite criminal, psychiatric and medical experts recommending to the Russian Investigative Committee that murder charges should be dropped, say newspaper reports.
Their lawyers describe the sisters as the ‘real victims’, claiming the father was a tyrant who used ‘brutal violence’ against his daughters.
Official expert opinion in the investigation had backed the sisters’ claims that he raped Krestina and Angelina and engaged in other sexual violence when they were underage, reported Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper citing legal sources.
Three lawyers representing the sisters have filed an appeal against the ‘unfounded’ charging decision.
‘No-one disputes that the girls lived in conditions where each of them constantly experienced threats to their own lives,’ said the lawyers.
Pictures emerged showing injuries the girls sustained. Left is Angelina with blood running down her face, while a bruise on one of the girls’ jaws is seen right
Angelina (pictured in court) and her siblings don’t deny attacking their father, but their lawyers maintain a murder charge is unjust
On the day Mikhail died, the girls say he attacked them with pepper spray – causing Krestina (pictured), who suffered from asthma, to collapse
A petition signed by almost 50,000 people is demanding the murder charges are dropped and posthumous legal action is begun against the ‘abusive’ father for violence and paedophile sex abuse.
Mari Davtyan, a lawyer for the sisters, complained that in Russia women who defend themselves against abuse ‘almost always find themselves in the dock for murder’.
In this case ‘self-defence is obvious and there are witnesses,’ she said.
Alexey Parshin, Angelina’s lawyer, called for the murder charges to be ‘terminated’ or reclassified as self-defence.
Anna Rivina, director of an anti-domestic violence organisation and a human rights activist, said: ‘We live in a country where it is easier for a woman to die than to try to protect herself.’
Mikhail kept an array of weapons stashed in his car which lawyers now believe he used to threaten and humiliate the girls with
Weapons and ammunition uncovered in Khachaturyan’s car. He was allegedly a mob boss before he was killed in July last year
She warned: ‘I would like very much to hope that the Khachaturyan sisters’ case can be used to show the absurdity of law enforcement and, perhaps, even change the judicial practice, but, to be honest, there is little hope left… .
‘Self-defence is considered only if you are already specifically targeted with an axe, and in no case can you defend yourself with something more terrible than an axe.’
Evidence reported from the investigation indicates the father told one of his ‘terrified’ daughters: ‘You will take the place of your mother. I will marry you and you will give birth to my baby.’
An experts’ report said: ‘He ordered them to get undressed in front of him, saying that he wanted to ‘check’ them.
‘Then ordered them to masturbate him, saying that he had problems with his prostate and it would be a cure.’
After their mother left, Khachaturyan told one of his terrified daughters that she ‘will take the place’ of her mother and give birth to his son
Aurelia Dunduk, the girls’ mother, was also allegedly slashed with a knife and fled the family home, after which his abuse of the girls became more severe
He ‘abused and humiliated’ them ‘with various weapons’.
A picture has emerged of Angelina with blood streaming from her face after an attack.
On the day of his death, the girls had got his hunter’s knife from his car as self protection because they feared he would beat them, according to new evidence in the experts’ report to the court.
Maria had been wounded previously with the knife as had the girls’ mother Aurelia who had fled the family home.
After waking he attacked his daughters with pepper spray, a frequent ‘punishment’ .
Former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak warned: ‘If the Khachaturyan sisters are imprisoned (for murder)… it will be a disgrace to Russian justice.’
The girls were the victims of a father with proven ‘serious mental problems’, she said.
They acted in self-defence.
‘The girls were fighting for their lives…they actually had no other choice,’ she said.