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Youngest Of Three Moscow Sisters Charged With Killing Their Father Goes On Trial

Maria Khachaturyan leaves court after a pretrial hearing in Moscow on July 28.
Maria Khachaturyan leaves court after a pretrial hearing in Moscow on July 28.

Maria Khachaturyan, the youngest of three sisters charged with killing their father in Moscow two years ago, has gone on trial in the Russian capital.

The high-profile trial began behind closed doors at the Butyrsky district court on August 10.

Dozens of young men and women gathered in front of the court building to support the defendant and her sisters, whom they consider victims of domestic violence.

Investigators say that in July 2018, Krestina, Angelina, and Maria Khachaturyan -- then 19, 18, and 17 years old, respectively -- killed their father, Mikhail Khachaturyan, at their home in Moscow's outskirts.

Materials gathered by investigators included substantial evidence of protracted sexual and physical abuse of his daughters by Khachaturyan.

The case has attracted widespread attention from Russian media, and led to calls from women's rights activists for the introduction of legislation that would allow victims of domestic violence to plead self-defense.

In early December, investigators finalized their indictment against the three sisters and sent it to the Prosecutor-General's Office to prepare for trial. Krestina, Angelina, and Maria acted with premeditation, it concluded, governed by "a strong personal enmity toward their father" due to continued physical and sexual abuse.

Later in December, Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Grin cited flaws in the investigation and asked officials to reclassify the sisters' actions as self-defense, which would pave the way for the women to be let free.

But earlier in July, according to the defense team, Grin confirmed the original premeditated-murder charges.

Maria Khachaturyan, who was 17 when the alleged crime took place, is being tried separately. A medical evaluation following the killing found her mentally unsound at the time of the crime, and it was recommended that she undergo psychological treatment.

Her two elder sisters will be tried by jury and their trial will begin on August 31.

With reporting by TASS and 360 TV
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