MOSCOW (AP) — Investigators in the case of three sisters accused of killing their abusive father have been ordered by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office to drop the murder charge against them and instead classify their actions as self-defense, their lawyer said Friday.
The case elicited widespread outcry after reports emerged that the sisters — 17, 18 and 19 years old at the time — acted after years of being beaten and raped. In December, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Maria, Angelina and Krestina Khachaturyan with premeditated murder, despite their lawyers arguing that young women acted in self-defense.
On Friday, their lawyer, Alexei Parshin, was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying that the Prosecutor General’s office refused to support the Investigative Committee’s case and ordered the murder charged to be dropped.
Prosecutors concluded the sisters’ actions were “carried out within the legal limits of the necessary self-defense,” Parshin said and suggested the case against the sisters might be closed altogether.
More than 350,000 people signed a petition this year demanding the sisters’ release. Women’s rights activists rallied in their support both in Russia and abroad.
The case prompted Russian lawmakers this year to start working on a law against domestic violence, something women’s rights advocates have been unsuccessfully fighting for since 2016.