Police seeking "Satanists" over cemetery desecration

NOVI SAD -- Monday -- Police in Novi Sad have launched a manhunt for suspected members of a Satanist cult in connection with desecrating the Catholic cemetery in the city.

"We suspect a group belonging to a Satanist cult is behind this," said police spokesman Stevan Krstic.

"Everything points to a religious ritual and a Satanist rite because of inverted crosses planted in the ground and digging up of a grave," he told media.

However, said Krstic, those responsible for previous desecration of Novi Sad cemeteries had usually turned out to be underage vandals.

The chairman of the Novi Sad Assembly, Nenad Canak, put the destruction of 85 headstones in the Catholic cemetery down to extreme nationalism, claiming that it was the work of "the direct descendents of those who were burying people in mass graves without headstones".

He said the likely perpetrators were people who did not accept that Novi Sad was a city populated by people of diverse ethnicity and religion.

The leader of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, Jozsef Kasza, made an emotional condemnation of the desecration.

"I condemn this vandalism, regardless of whatever cemetery it happened in. This is not what we were fighting for on October 5, 2000," he said, in a reference to the popular uprising which toppled the nationalist Milosevic regime.