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Judge and his family beheaded 'with machete' in medieval Ukraine massacre
Judge was known to be 'fair and honest' with sentencingPolice suggest gruesome crime may have been motivated by revenge
11:46 GMT, 17 December 2012
A respected judge – and three members of his family – have been beheaded in a medieval-style massacre in Ukraine.
The corpses were left at the scene but the heads of Judge Vladimir Trofimov, his wife Irina, their son Sergei, and the son's partner, Marina Zoueva, are all missing.
Police are uncertain what weapon was used – but say it could be a machete, a sword or an axe.
The sinister attack on the family
happened on Saturday, as the judge, his 59-year-old wife, 30-year-old
son, and his 29-year-old partner, relaxed at home in their apartment in
the eastern city of Kharkiv.
Vladimir Trofimov is believed to have been killed and then beheaded, along with three other members of his family
A shocked Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko said that the judge's son was beheaded while still alive, while the others were killed first before being decapitated.
'The victims' heads are absent from the scene. They haven't yet been found,' he said.
'The murderers took the heads away after severing them from the bodies,' added a police spokesman.
One theory is that the gruesome attack was revenge for a sentence handed down by the 58-year-old judge, who was known for his honesty and bravery.
Another theory centres on several antiques, which were also stolen from
Trifimov was known internationally as a collector of rare
coins, World War II medals and china statuettes.
Trofimov in the courtroom: Police suggest the murders were motivated either by revenge or theft
A close relative later found the corpses in the flat.
Trifomov was 'a very discreet, peaceful and modest man', said Kharkiv appeals court president Andrei Solokov. He had worked as a magistrate and judge for more than 30 years.
His father is 90 and mother is 86.
'The fact that his parents are still alive adds to the tragedy,' added Solokov.
Ukraine's Chief Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka arrived in the city to take the case under his personal control. Ukraine's SBU secret services were also involved in the case.
The attack came on a celebration day for judges in Ukraine.
The judiciary face extreme pressure in most ex-Soviet countries and often come under pressure to allow powerful criminal gang members to go free despite their guilt.
Their families are often threatened – or they are offered substantial bribes to fix verdicts.