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Ritual killings in Europe probed

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands (CNN) -- European police chiefs are holding a unique meeting in an attempt to tackle the mystery of ritual killings, following several Europe-wide murders.

Monday's meeting in The Hague was called by Europol -- the office that coordinates police work across the European Union -- in support of London detectives investigating the killing of a young Afro-Caribbean boy known only as Adam in London.

Adam's dismembered torso was discovered dressed only in orange shorts in London's River Thames last September.

A leading South African pathologist, Professor Hendrik Scholtz, said the death was "consistent with those of a ritual homicide as practised in Africa."

London's Scotland Yard, which is investigating the death of Adam, says Monday's meeting will provide no new leads but is a unique opportunity to share knowledge with other forces.

Other ritual-style killings are believed to have occurred in Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy although Europol says it is not linking the deaths.

Also attending the conference will be European academics who will try to help police prevent further ritual-style killings which appear to have spread from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe during the past 10 years.

They will also be looking into the possibility that child-trafficking from sub-Sahara into Europe may play a part in the deaths.

Forensic experts will provide advice on determining the geographical origin of the victims -- which is often unknown.

This is particularly relevant in Adam's case, as police hope it may help to pinpoint the country of his origin.

Little is known about his identity but he is believed to have been between five and six years of age.

The case has drawn sympathy from the international community, including former South African President Nelson Mandela, but police have so far failed to make a breakthrough.


• Mandela in UK 'torso murder' plea
April 19, 2002
• London murder 'human sacrifice'
January 29, 2002

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