Updated: 16/12/16 : 06:55:08
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World :: 12-year-old Serbian killer escapes prosecution

A 12-year-old boy who killed a homeless man in Serbia will not be prosecuted because he is too young, reports say.

The boy was apparently with two companions aged 12 and 13 when he set alight a mattress being used by the man in the northern town of Novi Sad.

The man died of his burns in hospital on Wednesday morning.

Police said the boys were questioned while their parents were present and then freed because they were under 14, the age of criminal responsibility.

Serbian news agency Tanjug quoted juvenile crime police chief Olivera Zecevic as saying proceedings would not be launched "even though police found out who did it".

Ms Zecevic said it was important that parents knew where their children were and took responsibility for guiding their behaviour.

Police should investigate whether there was a basis for prosecuting the parents in this case, lawyer Milan Alanovic was quoted as saying on Serbia's RTS TV.

The age of criminal responsibility varies widely across Europe - from 10 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to 16 in Russia.

Serbian TV said the boy set the man's mattress alight at approximately 03:30 on Wednesday (2:30 GMT). The fire quickly engulfed the man's clothes and he died despite being taken to hospital.

The victim was described as 52 years old.

Police are continuing their inquiries into what happened and what further steps can be taken.