German authorities are investigating allegations of serious abuse, including bizarre rituals involving violence and sex, at a military camp in Pfullendorf in southern Germany.
A variety of information about humiliating behavior, abuse and bizarre rituals have emerged in the German newspaper Speigel Online.
The newspaper has its information from an internal investigation report.
Several soldiers and instructors, including elite soldiers who train medical staff, have been involved in widespread abuses of sexual and violent character.
The army confirms that it has received a number of claims that are taken seriously and that there have been violations of the pledge to respect human dignity. The army confirms that it is also has evidence of bullying, according to a statement on the Department of Defense's website.
Germany's defense minister reacts strongly to the revelations.
- What has happened in Pfullendorf is repulsive, embarrassing and disgusting, says Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, to German TV.
- Especially since there are so many soldiers who work so hard for the training center to have such a good reputation, she adds.
Instructors have pushed recruits to make unnecessary medical examinations on each other. Both male and female recruits have been exposed to sexual acts, including the use of tampons, in front of fellow soldiers who filmed.
It has also been common to tie soldiers to a chair and splash ice cold water on them for hours, and they were forced to strip naked while fellow soldiers filmed them.
Both the defense minister and military leaders condemn the behavior and the matter is investigated.
Seven soldiers have been charged and five officers redeployed, reports the German Defense Ministry. The soldiers are charged with unlawful imprisonment, grievous bodily harm, violence and coercion.
- The events at the training center can not be tolerated. It goes against everything we stand for. Breaches of internal rules will not be accepted in the army, and they will be punished with the utmost determination, writes General Jörg Vollmer in a statement.
The abuses were first reported in 2015. Then it began to arrive stories about weaknesses in the training and harassment of women. But no evidence were found that time.
However, following the allegations, Inspector General Volker Wieker ordered an investigation of the training center. More people will therefore probably be charged as the investigation continues.
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