Russian prosecutors decided earlier this year that murder charges against three sisters who killed their father after years of abuse should be dropped. The country's investigative committee has rejected the recommendation. Authorities say Maria, Angelina, and Krestina Khachaturyan confessed to killing their father with a knife and a hammer in their Moscow-area home in July 2018, the BBC reports. They were 17,18, and 19 at the time. The prosecutor's office said in January it had concluded that the killing should be seen as "necessary self-defense" after the girls had suffered "beating, constant humiliation, threats and abuse, physical and sexual violence." But the investigative committee says its own investigation concluded that the charge of premeditated murder should stand.
The sisters, whose accusations were corroborated by their mother, told investigators that 57-year-old Mikhail Khachaturyan had effectively kept them prisoners in their home. They said they finally snapped after he doused them in pepper spray because the living room was untidy. Many Russians expected the case to be dropped after the prosecutors' recommendation, reports Radio Free Europe. Lawyer Alexei Lipser says the case cannot go to court until prosecutors and the investigative committee reach agreement, and it is likely to go on "ping-ponging back and forth" until one side yields. In the meantime, the sisters are living separately and are not allowed to speak to each other. The older two face up to 20 years if convicted of premeditated murder. (The case has fueled a vicious culture war in Russia.)