Three sisters who claim they killed their father in self-defence because he was sexually abusing them have been recognised as victims in a new Russian trial.
But legal experts say the surprising move may not save two of the girls from facing prison sentences in a high profile case.
The sisters – all teenagers at the time – claim they were raped and violated by their father Mikhail Khachaturyan, 57, who was stabbed to death with his own hunting knife as he slept in his Moscow flat in 2018
A campaign is underway to drop the murder charges against the two older siblings, Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan, who were 19 and 18 when their father was killed.
A judge in Russia has recognised three sisters – Krestina (left), Angelina (right), and Maria Khachaturyan – who ‘killed their sex abuser father in self-defence’ in 2018 as ‘victims’
The sisters, including youngest sibling Maria (right), claim they were raped and violated by their father Mikhail Khachaturyan (left), 57, who was stabbed to death with his own hunting knife as he slept in his Moscow flat in 2018
A new posthumous trial, in which the powerful Russian Investigative Committee has recognised the sisters as ‘victims’, will take place into the abuse allegations against Khachaturyan.
Angelina Khachaturyan’s lawyer Maria Davtyan welcomed the move.
She said: ‘They are in fact victims because of the actions committed against them’.
The long running abuse they faced, Davtyan added, was ‘the reason the girls were forced to do what they did’.
But, analysts warn that if if their dead father is posthumously cleared of abuse, this would count against them in the murder trial that will follow.
However, if the father is posthumously convicted, the two older sister may still face prison sentences.
This is because the pair are unlikely to be seen as acting in ‘self-defence’ in killing their father under Russian laws, according to legal expert Valentin Klyucharyov
He said: ‘If the girls speak the truth, from the point of view of morality what happened to them is terrible’.
‘But this cannot be described as self-defence.’
This is because the father was not torturing or sexually abusing them at the time they stabbed him with his hunting knife, he explained.
Maria (pictured) is being dealt with separately after being judged temporarily insane at the time of the murder
‘Maybe he deserved death, but the court will judge the girls according to the laws of the Russian Federation.’
This new probe will go ahead before court action resumes into murder allegations against Krestina and Angelina.
Their younger sister Maria, who was 17 at the time of her father’s death, also admitted to killing him after facing ‘years of abuse’.
However, Maria is being dealt with separately by the legal system after being judged temporarily insane at the moment her father was killed.
If convicted, she faces time in a psychiatric hospital, rather than a prison.
A new posthumous trial, in which the powerful Russian Investigative Committee has recognised the sisters as ‘victims’, will take place into the abuse allegations against Khachaturyan
This new probe will go ahead before court action resumes into murder allegations against Krestina and Angelina
The case has been seen as a litmus test in Russia for how the law deals with domestic sexual abuse.
Almost one million Russians have signing petitions calling for the sisters to be released.
The investigation earlier found they faced ‘physical and mental suffering…over a long period of time’.
Evidence showed the father threatened 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 expert’s 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.’
He ‘abused and humiliated’ them ‘with various weapons’.
Angelina had blood streaming from her face after one attack by her father who had links both to senior Russian officials and underworld kings, according to reports.
But the sisters’ aunt Naira Khachaturyan claimed the earlier official investigation found no evidence of sexual violence against the teenagers.
Medical tests showed two of the three were virgins, she claimed, while the third had a secret boyfriend.
She said: ‘They knew they could live the way they wanted if they got rid of their father’.
They wanted to ‘delete him from their lives’ and enjoy a ‘riotous lifestyle’.
However, the sisters’ aunt Naira Khachaturyan claimed the earlier official investigation found no evidence of sexual violence against the teenagers. Other relatives claimed the girls lied and killed him to inherit his fortune