THREE teenage sisters who knifed to death their “rapist” father are to be charged with murder in Russia.
The high-profile case saw investigators testify the sisters were repeatedly tortured, sexually abused and raped - sparking outcry from Russian lawyers and human rights activists.
Mikhail Khachaturyan, 57, is pictured with his daughter Angelina before his murder
Krestina Khachaturyan was 19 at the time of her father's murder
The youngest sister, Maria Khachaturyan, was aged 17 at the time of the murder
Their father, 57-year-old Mikhail Khachaturyan, was stabbed through the heart with his own hunting knife.
The sisters - Krestina, 19, Angelina, 18 and Maria, 17 - were earlier released from custody on a judge’s order.
PAEDOPHILE SEX ABUSE
The decision was made amid signs that the criminal investigation saw them as victims of sustained long-term abuse by their “bullying mafia boss father”.
Official investigation experts testified that they were repeatedly tortured, sexually abused and raped by their father.
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 the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, citing legal sources.
Mikhail Khachaturyan was described as a tyrant who used 'brutal violence' against his daughters
MURDER BY SELF DEFENCE
Lawyers had pressed for the murder allegations to be dropped against all the sisters or mitigated by re-categorising the case as causing death by “self defence”.
Now the decision to go ahead with a full-scale murder trial has dismayed their lawyers and human rights campaigners in Russia.
Three lawyers representing the sisters have filed an appeal against the “unfounded” charging decision.
The move comes despite criminal, psychiatric and medical experts recommending to the Russian Investigative Committee that murder charges should be dropped, local newspapers reported.
Their lawyers describe the sisters as the “real victims”, claiming the father was a tyrant who used “brutal violence” against his daughters.
“No one disputes that the girls lived in conditions where each of them constantly experienced threats to their own lives,” said the lawyers.
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.”
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.”
'ABUSED & HUMILIATED'
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.”
He “abused and humiliated” them “with various weapons”.
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.
On the day of his death, the girls had retrieved his hunting 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.
A picture has emerged of Angelina with blood streaming from her face after one of the attacks.
Two of the three sisters, Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan, could be jailed for between eight and 20 years.
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”.
As a result Maria will not face jail whatever the verdict.
Angelina Khachaturyan could face between eight and 20 years in jail
Angelina is seen with blood streaming from her face after one of the attacks
One of the sisters is seen with blood covering her feet at the crime scene
A knife was identified from the crime scene