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Italian official convicted of child abuse for pulling son's hair

An Italian who chastised his 12-year-old son in public while on holiday in Sweden has been found guilty of child abuse.

Stockholm District Court said Giovanni Colasante, an official from the southern Italian town of Canosa di Puglia, "intentionally inflicted pain on his son by pulling him by the hair" for about five seconds during an argument in Stockholm.

Colasante, who denied the charges, was arrested after witnesses approached the family and called police. He spent three nights in jail before returning to Italy and was not present in court for the hearing.

It was not immediately clear whether he would appeal against the verdict.

The case has generated front-page headlines in Italy, where it is being called a parenting "culture clash" between northern and southern Europe. But even Italians who say parents should not slap their children question whether Colasante's offence deserved jail.

Colasante told Italy's RAI television he was "humiliated" by the experience and that his son felt guilty for having put his father through the ordeal.

"I had to give up a holiday, and it put into question my relationship with my son, because he now in some ways feels responsible for what happened," Colasante said, his wife sitting by his side.

In Sweden there is zero tolerance for parents who hit their children, and anyone who does in public is often confronted by bystanders or reported to police.

Sweden was the first country in the world to outlaw corporal punishment in 1979, according to the country's Ombudsman for Children.

Noting that boy had not received any injuries, the court said the abuse was regarded as a misdemeanour and waived a fine of £700, saying Colasante's time in jail was sufficient punishment.

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