The first day of the Armenian trial of a Russian soldier suspected of killing seven members of an Armenian family near a Russian base has adjourned after a request that Russian soldiers be removed from the military courtroom was rejected and the defense asked for a 30-day postponement.
Nineteen-year-old Russian conscript Valery Permyakov is charged with a shooting rampage at the home in northwestern Armenia of the Avetisyan family in January, leaving both parents and five other family members, including a 6-month-old, dead.
The judge set the resumption of the trial for January 18.
It took six months for Russia to agree to allow an Armenian trial of Permyakov, who some reports suggest has confessed to the killings while in Russian custody awaiting trial.
But the trial is being held in a courtroom at the Russian base in Gyumri where Permyakov was serving.
The judge on December 18 quickly dismissed a motion by the Armenian side for Russian soldiers to be removed from the courtroom, saying Permyakov is a Russian citizen and the servicemen ensure his security.
Lawyers representing relatives of the victims missed the first half-hour of the proceedings after they were initially prevented from getting onto the base.
They also complained of poor acoustics and said they wanted to hear not only the Armenian translation but the defendant's Russian-language testimony from the dock, prompting the court at one point to ask the defendant to speak up with his responses.
In a separate trial, a Russian military court in Gyumri on August 12 sentenced Permyakov to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges of stealing weapons from the military base, deserting, and carrying the weapons in Gyumri.
The killings sparked angry protests in Gyumri in mid-January, as people demanded Permyakov's immediate handover to Armenian justice.
Permyakov faces a possible life sentence if convicted by the Armenian court.
A native of Chita, in Russia's Zaibakal region, Permyakov has been kept in custody at the Gyumri headquarters of the Russian military base in Armenia since he was apprehended by Russian border guards hours after the Avetisian family was found dead at their home on January 12.
The dead at the scene included both parents, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and 2-year-old granddaughter, and their six-month-old grandson succumbed to his stab wounds in a hospital a week later.