Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office has ordered investigators to drop murder charges against teenage sisters accused of killing their abusive father in a closely watched case that fueled debate on the issue of domestic violence in the country.
Prosecutors on January 30 said the case of sisters Maria, Angelina, and Krestina Khachaturyan should be reclassified as self-defense, likely ending the legal case against the three, their lawyer said.
The sisters stabbed their father to death in a Moscow suburb in July 2018 after enduring what they said was constant humiliation and sexual abuse.
The three sisters confessed to using a knife and a hammer to kill their 57-year-old father, Mikhail Khachaturyan.
The Investigate Committee had said on December 3 that it had completed the investigation into the killing and was recommending charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder against the two older sisters, Krestina and Angelina, who were aged 18 and 19 at the time.
The statement said the two were of sound mind and aware of their actions when the killing occurred, but it also pointed to the long-term “physical and mental suffering” inflicted on them by their father as a mitigating circumstance.
They faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Investigators recommended that the third sister, Maria, who was 17 at the time of her father’s killing, should enter mandatory psychiatric care.
Aleksei Parshin, the girls’ lawyer, was quoted by state-run TASS news agency as saying the Prosecutor-General's Office had rejected the Investigative Committee's case and ordered the murder charges to be dropped.
He said prosecutors concluded the sisters' actions were “carried out within the legal limits of the necessary self-defense."
Mari Davtyan, a lawyer for Angelina, told AFP when the murder charges were first recommended that the sisters "used reasonable force in self-defense."
The case has received broad coverage in the media in Russia and abroad and has triggered a debate on domestic abuse following the 2017 introduction of a law decriminalizing most forms of battery.
Some 350,000 people signed a petition demanding the sisters' release, while women's rights activists inside and outside of Russia rallied in their support.