Syrian unrest: Inquiry into Hamza al-Khatib's death
The Syrian authorities have announced a full inquiry into the death of a 13-year-old boy who has become a symbol for the continuing uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, BBC reported.
Opposition activists say the boy, Hamza al-Khatib, was abducted and tortured to death by local security forces.
The authorities insist he was shot dead during a demonstration.
Meanwhile, at least 25 people have been killed by troops in the central town of Rastan since Sunday, activists say.
Hamza al-Khatib is being compared to the Tunisian market-seller Mohamed Bouazizi and Iranian pro-democracy protester Neda Agha Soltan, whose deaths galvanised anti-government campaigns.
He is also being called a martyr by the Syrian authorities.
Hamza went missing after a demonstration at an army barracks near Deraa in the south at the end of April.
The government says he received three fatal gunshot wounds during the protest and died on the spot, but there was a delay in handing over his body because he was not identified.
Syrian state TV aired a programme about the teenager on Tuesday night in which a judge said death was due to "a number of bullet wounds without any indication of torture or beating on the body".
Coroner Akram al-Shaar blamed the state of the body on decomposition, adding: "There are no marks on the surface of the body that show violence, resistance or torture."
State TV said the teenager's father and family had been invited to meet President Assad, and they were quoted as saying he "engulfed us with his kindness and graciousness".
A man who identified himself as Hamza's father said: "The president considered Hamza his own son and was deeply affected."
But the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says the authorities' efforts have not stopped Hamza's death giving a new focus to the continuing revolt.
It has also given ammunition to critics of the regime, he adds.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hoped the death would persuade Syria to begin a transition to real democracy.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said such incidents had robbed Mr Assad of any legitimacy and urged the the UN Security Council to refer him to the International Criminal Court.
Activists say he was captured and tortured to death, and that his mutilated body was handed back to his family four weeks later.