YEREVAN—Valery Permyakov, the Russian serviceman accused of murdering seven members of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri, was convicted on Aug. 12 of desertion and illegal weapons possession as a precursor to his murder trial.
A Russian military court in Gyumri handed Permyakov a 10-year prison sentence on charges of desertion and illegal weapons possession, reported the Associated Press (AP). Armenian authorities will pursue a separate trial for the murders. A date for that trial has not yet been set.
Permyakov was in custody at the Russian military base in Gyumri after being arrested during an attempt to cross the Armenian-Turkish border. Questions over whether Permyakov would be prosecuted by a Russian military tribunal in Yerevan or by an Armenian court arose after it was confirmed that he would not be extradited to Russia. Russian soldiers on the Gyumri military base who commit crimes are subject to Armenian law enforcement and judicial bodies, per a bilateral treaty signed in 1997 between Armenia and Russia.
Armenian state prosecutors confirmed on June 30 that Permyakov would be tried by an Armenian court. Several protests and demonstrations in Armenia were staged after news of the murder spread on Jan. 12. Protesters in Gyumri and Yerevan made several demands, including having the Russian military base closed and insisting that Permyakov be turned over to Armenian law enforcement.