Ex-cop arrested for death of 23 women

Moscow -

A former policeman suspected of raping and murdering 23 women in eastern Siberia in the 1990s has been detained after years of searches and hundreds of tests, Russian authorities said Friday.

The man from Angarsk, a small industrial town in eastern Siberia, is believed to be behind the serial killings that occurred between 1994 and 1999, investigators said.

All the victims disappeared in similar circumstances and their bodies were later found in the woods just outside the city, in a local cemetery or on the roadside, said Moscow-based investigators.

“Most of the women were naked, and their bodies bore signs of being raped,” the investigators said in a statement, adding that some of the victims had also been robbed of money and jewellery.

During a decade-long manhunt, the authorities conducted DNA tests on 3,500 individuals and questioned more than 1,000 people.

The suspect was serving in the police at the time of most of the killings but retired in 1998.

Tests so far have found that his DNA matches biological material discovered on the bodies of three of the women, investigators said.

The suspect, who has not been identified, was detained on Saturday in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok and taken back to Siberia, they said, adding that the investigation was continuing.

Police in Siberia's Irkutsk region which includes Angarsk said the suspect's involvement in all the murders has yet to be proved.

“Right now it is not that important who the criminal is at the end of the day: a former policeman, soldier, doctor or someone else,” the police said in a statement. “The most important thing is for the principle of inevitability of punishment to work.” - Sapa-AFP