Serbian Orthodox, Jewish graves desecrated

June 4, 2009 at 5:02 PM
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BELGRADE, Serbia, June 4 (UPI) -- Serbian police said they are investigating the desecration of 724 graves of the Serbian Orthodox and Jewish graveyards in the northern Vojvodina region.

Milan Glumac, chief of the police station in Sombor, 115 miles north of Belgrade, said they had no immediate suspects in the incident whose number of vandalized graves surpasses anything recorded in the Serbian multi-ethnic province of Vojvodina, bordering Croatia, Hungary and Romania.

Vandals desecrated the Orthodox cemetery at the village of Stapari, close to Sombor, on the night from Sunday to Monday when 713 tombstones were broken or damaged, Belgrade's Blic online reported Thursday.

Sombor Mayor Dusan Jovic told Stapari villagers the town and Vojvodina province will provide funds to repair the damaged graves.

Police officers believe the graves were vandalized by a large group of people because it should take time to damage 713 tombstones, some of which weighed up to 1,100 pounds, the report said.

In a separate incident Sunday evening at Subotica, 20 miles northeast of Sombor, vandals desecrated 11 graves at the Jewish cemetery. The graves, dating to the 19th century, had inscriptions in Hebrew or in Hungarian, Blic said.

If vandals are arrested and found guilty they face a prison sentence of up to one year.

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