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Three sisters killed their father. Despite a history of abuse, they're facing murder charges

July 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Mikhail Khachaturyan's body was found on a staircase in a Moscow apartment block in July 2018, with dozens of knife wounds to his chest and neck.

The next day the three were arrested and confessed to the killing, saying they had endured years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse from their father, according to their lawyers and the Russian prosecutor general's office.

Last summer the sisters were indicted on charges of premeditated murder, sparking an uproar among activists in Russia, which is grappling with a far-reaching domestic abuse problem.

Maria, who was a minor at the time of the killing but indicted after she turned 18, has also been deemed mentally unfit to commit a murder and will be tried separately on a murder charge, according to one of the sisters' lawyers, Aleksey Liptser.

Domestic violence experts, along with the sisters' defense team, say that in the absence of adequate protective mechanisms within law enforcement and the court system, their only choice was to defend themselves or eventually die at their father's hands.

In January, the prosecutor's office confirmed allegations made by the defense that the Khachaturyan sisters had suffered "beating, constant humiliation, threats and abuse, physical and sexual violence," and that they had developed a "defensive reaction. "

Mari Davtyan, a lawyer for the sisters who often represents victims of domestic abuse, linked the reversal to a wider trend of dismissing human rights that has been growing since the passage of controversial amendments to the Russian constitution following a referendum on July 1.

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