Budapest, Belgrade, 27 March 2013: A 17-year-old Romani boy died in suspicious circumstances in Becej, Serbia. The ERRC is urging the authorities to thoroughly investigate the crime, including any possible racist motivation, after an initial hearing took place in Novi Sad today.

The boy was found dead in the early hours on 17 March 2013, and the events surrounding his death are unclear. Initial information from the police classified the death as suspicious. Daily newspaper Blic reported on 21 March that the boy had been kicked to death by four persons, that they were skinheads and that he may have been targeted because he was Roma. The boy was severely beaten and left unconscious in a puddle. Some media reports said that the autopsy showed death by drowning. A 14-year-old boy, reported to be an ethnic Hungarian from Becej, has been arrested in connection with the attack.

In a separate incident, a group of masked young men attacked a group of Roma in a Roma settlement in Kestenova Street, Bor, eastern Serbia on 21 March. The attackers used rocks, breaking the windows of houses and damaging cars belonging to Roma. Unofficial and unconfirmed reports suggest the attack happened following an attack on an ethnic Serb a day earlier, which may have been carried out by a Romani individual. According to an official statement from the police, ten people have been arrested and detained for eight days, and criminal charges have been initiated for the criminal act of violent behavior. The incident was classified as "unsettled inter-personal relations".

The ERRC is calling on the authorities to fully investigate both these incidents considering a racial motivation, as hate crimes may have been committed. Authorities should identify and prosecute all perpetrators, in line with the national criminal code.