NEWS

Two different worlds clash within same town

Many of Alex’s friends and relations say he was a sensitive and gifted child who loved music and basketball. He played the piano, went to art classes and loved traveling. In his new hometown of Veria he was slowly finding his way into the satisfied and peaceful life his mother, Natela, wanted for him. From the start, Alex, or Sascha as his family called him, did not have it easy. He was born in his mother’s hometown in northern Ossetia, a region belonging to the Russian Federation. Shortly afterward his mother went to live with Alex’s father in Tbilisi, Georgia, but life was no better there so Natela took the child back to live with her parents. She tried to earn a living by teaching music while her parents looked after Alex in their 20-square-meter apartment. When Natela decided to try her luck in Greece, going to stay with a female friend who had settled in Veria, Alex stayed with his grandparents until 2002, by which time Natela had settled into a new life in northern Greece and was able to bring her son to join her. He got to know his new stepfather, started school, made new friends and developed new interests. His family say 11-year-old Alex had problems at school, not with his lessons or conduct but with some of the other children who wouldn’t play with him, who discriminated against him, who even attacked him. Residents of Veria say these children are from very poor homes and are not close to their families. Two of the children, brothers from a broken home, gave up playing games like football. The father of the third child drinks retsina from morning to night and owes three months’ rent. The parents of the fourth are away at work from dawn. The fifth child’s father has returned to his homeland, leaving his son to fend for himself. These children began with petty theft then moved on to robbing kiosks and garages. Veria’s social services had recommended that they be taken into care before something worse happened. Alex bumped into these troubled children that fateful day. Two different worlds, within the same society, clashed. Both Alex and the children came from difficult beginnings, but the young boy had values and the children who likely killed him do not. Alex was on his way from a basketball game to an art lesson, almost in the middle of town, when he went missing.