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Suspected Mastermind of Village Slaughter Arrested

Prosecutors on Monday announced the arrest of a man suspected of organizing the brazen killing of 12 people, including four children, who had gathered for a celebration in a village home.

A group of men armed with knives burst into the home of a farmer on Nov. 5, killing him and his family and their guests. Most of the victims were stabbed to death, but one of the children was strangled and another died of smoke inhalation when the attackers tried unsuccessfully to burn down the house.

Federal prosecutors said Monday that they have arrested the suspected organizer of the attack, Sergei Tsapok, and a member of his gang, Sergei Tsepovyaz. Four other suspects, including two teenagers, were arrested last week.

All are residents of Kushchyovskaya, a farming village of about 100 homes in the Krasnodar region where the attack took place.

Prosecutors have refused to comment on a possible motive.

Izvestia newspaper identified Tsapok as a leader of an agricultural holding company that had been expanding every year at the expense of local farmers. The paper said the farmer who was killed had refused to hand over some of his land.

Izvestia cited an unidentified investigator as saying the group of attackers numbered about 20. They used knives, then planned to burn the bodies in an effort to hide evidence of the attack, the newspaper said. Unlike bullets, the stab wounds would not be visible on charred bodies.

Prosecutors said all the bodies were taken to the second floor of the brick house, but the attackers failed to burn it down, despite evidence that fires had been started in three locations.

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