Russia has opened an extraordinary posthumous criminal investigation into whether a father killed by his three daughters was — as they claim — an evil sex abuser and torturer.
The sisters have claimed they were raped and violated by Mikhail Khachaturyan, 57.
A campaign is underway to drop murder accusations against the two older siblings, who were all in their teens when their father was killed with his own hunting knife as he slept.
Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan, then 19 and 18, along with younger sister Maria, 17, admitted to killing the “tyrant” after facing “years of abuse”.
Now, other relatives of the dead father have won the right to open a full-scale posthumous criminal case to examine whether Khachaturyan was a sex attacker.
Complex case grips country
The investigation - a new twist in the complex high-profile case which has gripped Russians - is seen as a setback to the sisters.
This new probe will go ahead before a trial resumes into murder allegations against Krestina and Angelina .
There will also be a new probe under a replacement investigator into the knife attack by the girls, as earlier reported.
Their sister Maria is being dealt with separately by the legal system and faces time in a psychiatric hospital rather than jail after being judged temporarily insane at the moment her dad was killed.
The sisters want to be designated as “victims” of their father, but the court has not backed this.
Relatives demand investigation into sex attack claims
The Russian Investigative Committee has opened the posthumous criminal case in line with the relatives’ demand, reported RIA Novosti, citing its sources.
Alexey Parshin, Angelina’s lawyer, told Open Media: “The relatives want to achieve the rehabilitation of Mikhail Khachaturyan.
“For this purpose they are asking for a full-fledged investigation to prove that he did not commit a crime.”
Olga Khalikova, a lawyer for Khachaturyan's relatives, told 360 TV: "We were aware that a criminal case would be opened."
The case has been seen as a test in Russia for how the law deals with domestic sexual abuse, with almost one million signing petitions calling for the sisters to go free.
Teens 'faced physical and mental suffering'
The investigation earlier found the sisters faced “physical and mental suffering...over a long period of time”.
Evidence showed the father threatened one of his “terrified” daughters: “You will take the place of your mother.
“I will marry you and you will give birth to my baby.”
An experts’ report said: “He ordered them to get undressed in front of him, saying that he wanted to ‘check’ them.
“Then ordered them to masturbate him, saying that he had problems with his prostate and it would be a cure.”
He “abused and humiliated” them “with various weapons”, the report said.
Angelina had blood streaming from her face after one attack by her dad, who had links both to senior Russian officials and underworld kings, reports say.
Family claims sisters conspired to kill
But the sisters’ aunt, Naira Khachaturyan, claimed the earlier official investigation found no evidence of sexual violence against the teens.
Medical tests showed two of the three were virgins, she claimed, while the third had a secret boyfriend.
“They knew they could live the way they wanted if they got rid of their father,” she told a TV program.
They wanted to “delete him from their lives” and enjoy a “riotous lifestyle”.
The dead man’s nephew Arsen Khachaturyan claimed that one of the sisters had inflicted wounds on the other two, which they later blamed on violence by their father.
"Sexual violence, other violence, there was nothing of that,” he told viewers.
“The girls decided to kill their father, they conspired a while ago.”
A family friend said Khachaturyan “was linked to the criminal world, he was a kind of mafia boss.
“He never worked, and just received some payments on his credit card.”
In Australia, call 1800 RESPECT (737 732) for the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.
Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811, or after hours 6231 1817
Family Violence Crisis and Support Service on 1800 608 122
Bravehearts – Sexual Assault Support for Children on 1800 BRAVE 1
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.