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Armenia Sends Gyumri Massacre Convict To Russia To Serve Life Sentence

Russian soldier Valery Permyakov is serving a life sentence for murdering an Armenian family of seven in 2015. (file photo)

GYUMRI, Armenia -- A Russian soldier convicted of murdering an Armenian family of seven in Gyumri in 2015 has been sent to Russia to serve out his life sentence, the Armenian Justice Ministry says.

The ministry on May 18 said the move regarding Valery Permyakov, 21, was made in consultation with corresponding Russian authorities.

Permyakov has admitted to gunning down a middle-aged couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and 2-year-old granddaughter in their home on January 12, 2015.

The Avetisian family's seventh member, a 6-month-old baby boy, was stabbed and died a week later.

He was arrested after fleeing to the Armenian-Turkish border hours after the killings.

A Russian military court sentenced Permyakov to 10 years in prison for desertion and theft of firearms and ammunition in a short trial held in August 2015.

His Armenian-jurisdiction murder trial began shortly afterwards.

After he pleaded guilty, the court sentenced him to life imprisonment in August 2016. Armenia's Court of Appeals upheld the guilty verdict in December. Permyakov waived his right to make a final statement or explain his motives during the proceedings.

Since his arrest, Permyakov has been held at the Gyumri headquarters of a Russian military contingent.

The Armenian Ministry of Justice said earlier this month that Permyakov might be transferred to Russia "since both Armenian and Russian courts have handed down verdicts regarding him."

Initially, officials in Moscow said Permyakov could only be tried by a Russian court because Russia's constitution prohibits the extradition of its nationals to foreign states.

That caused outrage among many Armenians fearing a Russian cover-up of the massacre.

Thousands demonstrated in Gyumri in January 2015 against the Russian military presence to demand Permyakov's handover to the Armenian authorities.

Some protesters clashed with riot police outside the local Russian consulate before the Russians eventually agreed to place the case under Armenian jurisdiction.