Some 120 pupils around the age of 15 and their teachers at the Korsavad school in Simrishamn had posed for a picture together for their yearbook last autumn, reported regional newspaper Ystads Allehanda on Thursday.
But when the photographer later processed the pictures he discovered that a number of pupils appeared to be doing Nazi salutes in at least one of the photographs.
He contacted principal Pia Svensson who pulled the picture from the yearbook and contacted the boys’ parents.
After speaking to the pupils the school decided to report the incident to the police.
The boys have denied any criminal offence, however the prosecutor argues that they had been “in mutual agreement to express contempt for a group of people” by making the gesture.
Residents were shocked to see the flag, understood to have been a Nazi swastika banner, flying from one of the official flagpoles next to Vetlanda town hall in southern Sweden in the morning.
The local authority reported that a security guard had discovered it at around 6am and that it had been taken down shortly thereafter.
Vetlanda council issued a statement saying, “We take this very seriously. Vetlanda should be an open and welcoming council and these types of symbols are completely unacceptable to us. We’re reporting it to the police.”
It was not known by the afternoon who had hoisted the flag, but it was believed to have been intended to mark the birthday of German dictator Adolf Hitler, who was born on April 20th 1889. Last year a Nazi flag was raised at the Njudung school in Vetlanda on the same date.
“[This] is a clear assault on our open democracy and our fundamental values,” said the council executive committee’s chairman Henrik Tvarnö of the Social Democrat party and deputy chairman Jan Johansson of local party Vetlanda Framåtanda in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, residents took to social media to voice their disgust after a picture purporting to be of the flag at the town hall was posted on Facebook.
“What a horrible affront to all people who have fallen victim to this dreadful ideology. Awful that the echo of history does not reach all residents in our little town,” commented one user under the picture, which was posted in the group ‘You know you’re from Vetlanda when‘.
“Hope whoever has it now burns it,” wrote another one after it was removed.
Police meanwhile said they had launched an investigation into incitement of racial hatred.
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