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Teen tells court of abuse at elite Swedish school

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Students on trail over boarding school beating
07:29 CET+01:00
A student told a court on Monday of being beaten by five other students facing charges in a hazing scandal that has rocked the same prestigious Swedish boarding school once attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The five suspects, all of whom attended the Sigtuna Humanistiska läroverk (SSHL) boarding school north of Stockholm, maintained their innocence in the face of charges they perpetrated a long-running bullying campaign against a 17-year-old student.

On the first day of the trial at the Attunda District Court, the 17-year-old described in detail one of the times he was beaten by his fellow students.

He told of being forced to go down on his knees and keep his arms behind his back while the other students threw cheese balls at him that he was supposed to catch in his mouth.

"They threw them at my knees instead of at my head so that I didn't have a chance. For every ball I missed, I received a punch or a kick," he told the crowded courtroom, according to the Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT) newspaper.

He had bruises for two weeks following the incident, but tried to hide his injuries.

"I tried to show that I wasn't weak," he testified, according to the Expressen newspaper.

The five students were arrested in April 2012 for their role in what was described as a case of "severe and violent hazing" and face charges of aggravated assault.

Prosecutor Yngve Rydberg intends to prove that the older students beat the 17-year-old as punishment for failing to be sufficiently obedient when they demanded favours of him.

Late in 2011, Sweden's Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) slammed all three of Sweden's boarding schools – Sigtuna, Gränna and Lundsberg – over the schools' policies and attitudes toward hazing.

The agency has demanded the schools show what they're doing to combat hazing.

Sigtuna Humanistiska läroverk was formed in 1980 through a merger of Sigtunastiftelsens Humanistiska Läroverk and Sigtunaskolan and currently has an enrollment of about 580 students, two thirds of whom live at the school.

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In addition to the King, the elite school was also attended by well-known Swedes such as Olof Palme, banking executive Annika Falkengren, as well as members of the Wallenberg family.

The trial of the five students continues on Tuesday.

TT/The Local/dl

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