Swiss soldier faces jail for ‘humiliating’ hazing

Swiss soldier faces jail for ‘humiliating’ hazing
Photo: Swiss Department of Defence
The former commander of a company of Swiss army grenadiers who allegedly backed humiliating initiation activities for soldiers risks a prison sentence of up to three years, according to media reports.

Among other trials, soldiers at the training centre in Bure in the canton of Jura were forced to drink water used for cooking fish mixed with schnapps, eat cat food or serve their superiors naked.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag reported on Sunday that the captain in charge at the time will face a military court at the end of this month, two years after the hazing took place.

The former Swiss-German commander is “accused of disobedience, failure to follow service regulations, abuse and misuse of equipment,” Tobias Kühne, military justice spokesman is quoted as saying.

Kühne said Swiss military criminal law allows for a penalty ranging from a fine up to a sentence of three years behind bars.

The captain, aged 33 at the time of the alleged events, was removed from his position in a tank brigade shortly after videos of the initiation activities surfaced on the Internet, although he was not dismissed.

But the man risks now faces being thrown out of the army.

The head of the tank brigade at Bure, Brigadier Daniel Berger, has gone on record as being opposed to all kinds of hazing, Le Matin reported online.

But the army, in general, is more tolerant, the newspaper said.

“Hazing can strengthen esprit de corps,” Daniel Reist, army spokesman, told Le Matin.

He added that this was the case “provided that alcohol is not involved, that there is no suggestion of racism and that it is not humiliating for the soldier.”

However, Le Matin noted that alcohol was involved in the initiation rites under the accused captain.

The newspaper said that after a combat test, soldiers were allegedly forced to drink beer served in one of the boots each of them were wearing.

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