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School Violence Trial Begins in Germany

A whole German school class accused of torturing a fellow-student goes on trial Tuesday. The students, aged 16 to 18, are accused of torturing a classmate over months and filming themselves doing so.


Most German students get along just fine

The incidents came to light earlier this year when the 18-year-old victim, known only by his first name, Dieter, confided in a school psychologist. He was allegedly beaten, stripped and humiliated about twice a week for around two months. Each time different groups of fellow students would join in, and on several occasions, one of them captured the torture with a digital camera.

Only a couple of weeks after he joined the Werner-von-Siemens vocational school in the town of Hildesheim near Hanover for a one-year course, he was taken to a storeroom, beaten, forced to take his clothes off, to eat chalk and cigarette filters. Sometimes he was forced to cover his head with a bucket.

As time went on, the incidents became more frequent; the prosecutor says by the end he was being maltreated almost daily. He had bruises and cuts on his face and body and began to suffer from psychological problems.

Four of the 11 teenagers charged are considered to have been the ringleaders and have been held on remand since early February. The victim has claimed that one of the teachers regularly failed to come to his assistance, although he knew what was going on.

This is the third case of serious maltreatment of school students to come to light in the last few months in which the participants have filmed their actions. According to a recent study, most violence in schools is at a much less extreme, but 13 percent of school students admitted having robbed other students or forced them to part with something. Eight percent said they had threatened another student with a knife or a gun. The trial will take place behind closed doors, because the accused are minors, and is expected to last three days.

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