DNA tests to give clues in boy’s death

Police in Veria investigating the disappearance of 11-year-old Alex Meshivili yesterday started questioning the relatives of five boys who allegedly admitted to killing and burying the youngster on a construction site, as DNA tests got under way on bloodstained scraps of material found at the spot. Police yesterday resumed digging. The results of the tests – on several scraps of material from a tracksuit, a mattress and a rug as well as several cigarette butts – are due this morning. After the five children retracted their original admissions of guilt, police turned their attention to the boys’ relatives, saying it was possible that an adult moved the 11-year-old’s body from the site after learning what had happened. The grandfather of one of the two Greek boys alleged to be part of the gang was taken to Thessaloniki, along with his car. But by late yesterday, police had failed to make any headway in questioning. Meanwhile, the director of the school Alex had attended said that there had been no complaints regarding bullying by schoolchildren this year. «The only time Alex’s parents lodged an official complaint about him being bullied was in spring 2005… and this did not involve the implicated (children),» a school statement said. «What happened in our town could happen anywhere. But the school cannot tackle all pupils’ psychosocial and family problems on its own,» the statement added. This sentiment was echoed by Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, who remarked, «School can often play an important part in solving family problems, but school cannot replace the family.» The minister added that 5,000 teachers have already been trained in tackling violence and bullying at school and that more will be taught these skills. Meanwhile psychologists said that both an unstable family life and laxness in schools were to blame for the child violence believed to have led to Alex’s death. Clinical psychologist Anastassia Paraskevopoulou said it was Alex’s artistic and sporting skills that had probably piqued his contemporaries. «Alex was not targeted because he was foreign but because he had talents,» she said.

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