Gothenburg tram driver charged for racial slur
Published: 05 Aug 2011 16:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Aug 2011 16:02 GMT+02:00
A Gothenburg tram driver has been charged with racial agitation (hets mot folkgrupp) for allegedly harassing a group of teenage boys with foreign backgrounds.
The incident occurred on a Saturday evening in December when six teen boys ran to catch the tram, the Nyheter24 news website reported.
After the two fastest-running boys, 16 and 18 years old, manged to reach the tram before it departed from the stop, they proceeded to hold the tram's doors open for their slow-moving friends.
The delay infuriated the driver, who told the teenagers that the tram wouldn't be going anywhere until they left the car.
Four of them immediately did, but the two who'd held up the doors stayed,
After a 10 minute showdown with the stubborn teens, the driver delivered a racist announcement over the tram's public address system.
"It's thanks to these svartskallar [lit. "blackheads"] that we've had to wait," the driver announced, according to Nyheter24, employing a derogatory slur commonly used to refer to people in Sweden thought to have foreign backgrounds.
On Friday, the tram driver's racist rant resulted in charges being filed against him in Gothenburg District Court.
"At our workplace there are certain rules and restrictions that every member of our staff must follow. This person has obviously broken these rules," Lars-Börje Björfäll, CEO of Göteborg Spårvägar, told Nyheter24.
Several witnesses have confirmed the boys' reports that the driver demeaningly called them "svartskalle" and "suburban losers".
The driver is also accused of having yelled "move, you damn retard" to another person standing on the tracks.
He also flipped the teens the finger, according to their report of the events,s an action which, according to the Gothenburg police, "isn't impossible".
Björfäll was dismayed to hear of his employee's actions.
"First of all I was extremely disappointed, because this goes against all our rules and values. Secondly I was very surprised, because Gothenburg is such a multi-cultural city," he said.
Göteborg Spårvägar has not experienced any problems with this tram driver in the past, and is now waiting to see what happens in the courtroom, before deciding what actions to take against him.
"If he's convicted in the District Court it'll become a matter of employment law negotiation," said Björfäll to the local newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).
According to the tram driver himself, he was driven to his aggressive tone and actions by the teenage boys' behaviour, claiming they were rowdy and attempted to vandalise the tram by kicking at the doors.
"He says he's done nothing wrong," said Björfäll to Nyheter24.
However, witnesses and surveillance cameras prove the tram driver's story wrong, showing that the boys were sitting still in their seats.
"The surveillance film doesn't show any of the boys acting inappropriately inside the car. None of them kick against any door, pole or seat," wrote the Gothenburg police, according to Göteborgs-Posten.
The driver has yet to be appointed a lawyer for his case.