Judge and his family found decapitated

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The decapitated bodies of a Ukrainian judge, who was an internationally known antiques collector, and his wife, son and son’s girlfriend were found in the family apartment in the city of Kharkiv at the weekend.

Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko yesterday said several antiques appeared to be missing from the home of Volodymyr Trofimov, 58, who had a collection of rare coins, military medals and china statuettes.

An Interior Ministry statement said “all versions (being looked into by investigators) are based on the same conclusion: this crime was carefully planned and thought out in advance.”

The lock on the door of Trofimov’s flat, located in a Soviet-era apartment block, was intact, according to the Ukrainian newspaper Segodnya. Investigators have yet to find the heads of the dead, whose bodies were found on Saturday.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, had a murder rate of 5.2 per 100,000 population in 2010, compared to 10.2 in Russia and 1.1 in Poland, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

However, execution-style murders like that of the judge are rare.

The most infamous decapitation case in Ukraine was the 2000 murder of investigative reporter and editor Georgiy Gongadze, whose body was found in a forest soon after he was abducted.