Lundbergs school hazing victim's burned back. Photo: Swedish Radio

Two Lundsberg pupils guilty of hot iron bullying

2:35 min

Two pupils at the elite Lundsberg boarding school have been convicted of causing bodily harm with a hot iron during a "hazing ritual" in a dormitory, as part of what some say is a deeply ingrained culture of ritual bullying. The accused say the 14-year-old victim had consented to take part, something the boy denies. The two convicted students, both aged 18, must pay compensation and a fine.

On August 24 last year, nine older students at the private school, near Kristinehamn in central Sweden, threatened four new students with a hot iron and accidentally burnt one of them. They were accused of threats and assault.
All nine of them denied any wrongdoing. A 47-year-old house-steward was also charged for assisting the students, giving them permission to scare the youngsters with an iron. The seven other pupils and the house-steward were cleared.

After today's judgement, state prosecutor Niclas Wahlgren said  Swedish Radio Värmland he was pleased with how the court case had gone, and several of the important issues have been looked at in a good way.

The intent of the students was not to actually burn the new students, only to intimidate them, says the prosecutor in a press release.

The boys said they meant to only have the iron plugged into the wall for an instant but the plug got stuck and the iron became hotter than they expected. One 14-year-old boy received second degree burns because of this mistake.

The 18-year-old youth who plugged in the iron talked in court about "tough love", saying "we had no intention of hurting anyone and it was all done with a twinkle in the eye."

The boy who was burned said he was ordered to lie down on the floor. He said that he was not prepared for the hazing and was scared. The other three boys who also went through the hazing were not burned. They claim to have known about the initiation rites beforehand and one of them told the court, "I thought this was exciting and had been looking forward to it pretty much."

The lawyer for one of the convicted 18-year-olds is Hans Berglund. He says he is, naturally, disappointed, and that his client had not been careless, and so should not have been convicted. He says his client was not exactly happy, but on the other hand did avoid a conviction for threats.

The school was shut down by the Schools Inspectorate after the story became public. It was allowed to re-open a week later following an appeal. The Administrative Court of Appeals ruled that it was wrong of the Schools Inspectorate to close Lundsberg. It said that the bullying that led to the closure took place after school hours when the Inspectorate does not have the power to intervene.

Last week Swedish Television News reported that the scandal is making it harder for the school to attract new pupils, and that one of the dormitaries has already been closed.

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