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Military

German prosecutors investigate mountain ranger recruit abuse

New evidence has surfaced of bullying and abuse in the German military, with prosecutors investigating a complaint from a Bavarian mountain ranger unit. Reports of similar behavior rocked the Bundeswehr early this year.

A lance corporal serving in a unit of the German military's Bavarian Gebirgsjäger (mountain rangers) suffered months of abuse from other soldiers, according to a letter seen by the German public service broadcaster and the German news agency DPA.

The document, sent from the Defense Ministry to Germany's lower house of parliament, said the soldier complained of sexual harassment and being threatened over a prolonged period. An internal investigation was said to have confirmed the allegations, which come in the wake of another recent abuse scandal in the Baden Württemberg town of Pfullendorf.

Prosecutors said they were investigating 14 people in connection with the case, including two lieutenants, two non-commissioned officers and ten privates. The victim had, according to the report, addressed grievances to the parliamentary ombudsman for the German armed forces in October 2016. The instances of abuse were said to have taken place between November 2105 and September 2016 in the mountain rangers' 231 batallion, based in Bad Reichenhall near the Austrian border.

'Completely unacceptable'

In its letter, the German Defense Ministry described the events as "extremely regrettable and completely unacceptable," although they had been limited to one individual unit.

Commanders responsible for the unit had reacted in a "prudent and consistent" way, the ministry said. Meanwhile, the direct superior of the victim had been removed from their position, and the victim had been transferred.

Just weeks earlier, a military training center in Pfullendorf hit the headlines amid allegations that "sexually sadistic" practices and violent rituals had become widespread there and that female recruits were forced to pole-dance.

German military authorities filed criminal charges against seven soldiers, with accusations of unlawful detention, criminal assault and coercion. Abuse at Pfullendorf was said to be more widespread than was the case with the most recent complaint.

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rc/jm (dpa, ARD)

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