A Paris judge spent six hours on Monday probing former students at the elite Paris-Dauphine University on what drove them to scrape the name of a school association into the back of a first-year student.
But no real answers were forthcoming on what led four 20-year-old students to allegedly subject an 18-year-old classmate to a “humiliating and degrading” abuse.
Prosecutors are seeking a three month suspended sentence and €1,000 fine for the young men, whom come from middle class families and had a promising future ahead of them. A decision is expected at a July 7th hearing.
According to French daily Le Parisien, the victim was made to take part in a humiliating initiation ceremony for the JAPAD youth association at the university.
During the ritual, the student was forced to wear a rope around his neck, remove his shirt, lower his trousers, get on his knees and place his arms behind his shoulders using a broomstick. He was then punched in the ribs and had the letters J-A-P-A-D engraved on his back with a bottle cap.
All the while the victim was made to drink alcohol until he felt sick.
Prosecutors have accused his four classmates of aggravated violence and hazing, which has long been part of the university experience for students. Though a law passed in 1998 made hazing a crime in France, it is still a problem, especially for young women.
At Monday’s hearing, which was attended by three of the defendants, the students explained the weight of the hazing tradition at the university.
“We were just repeating things that we went through. It was a ritual,” one of the defendants told the court, adding that the victim had not reacted or protested.
“It was all done in good humour,” the defendant added. The student had even arrived “smiling”, he said, and even “left in the same manner”.
But this goes against the account of the victim who complained of being treated like a “doormat” and “a toy in Japad’s hands”.
“I had no idea that it would get out of hand like that,” the victim told the court. “I was caught by surprise, I let myself get carried away.”