GYUMRI — A Russian soldier accused of murdering seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday in the first, Russian trial stemming from the gruesome crime.
A Russian military court found Valery Permyakov guilty of desertion, stealing firearms and ammunition, and illegally carrying weapons during the one-day trial held at the Gyumri headquarters of a Russian military base in Armenia. It also ruled that the defendant did not and does not suffer from mental disorders and was therefore fit to stand trial.
The court did not deal with the killings themselves, in line with the Russian authorities’ recent decision to transfer the most important part of the high-profile criminal case to Armenian jurisdiction.
That decision means that Permyakov will also be tried by an Armenian court on separate charges of murdering a Gyumri couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren. Possible dates of that trial are not yet known.
Permyakov has been kept under arrest at the Russian army headquarters in Armenia’s second largest city ever since being arrested near the Armenian-Turkish border early on January 13, hours after six members of the Avetisian family were found shot dead in their home. The family’s seventh member, a 6-month-old baby boy, died of his stab injuries a week later. Permyakov admitted murdering them during his separate interrogations by Russian and Armenian law-enforcement officials.
The 19-year-old conscript looked calm as he appeared before the Russian court martial and swiftly pleaded guilty to the accusations. He refused to testify at the trial, telling the presiding judge that he stands by his pre-trial testimony that was read out in part by a Russian military prosecutor.
“I fully accept my guilt and regret my deeds,” Permyakov declared during the opening hearing attended by dozens of Armenian and Russian reporters as well as several relatives of the victims. Armenian lawyers representing the latter were also in attendance.
Permyakov told prosecutors that he randomly picked the Avetisians’ modest house as he sought to get money and civilian clothes before crossing the frontier. He said he never intended to kill its inhabitants but somehow opened fire out of fear.