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    German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks to German soldiers next to the commander of the German troops, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Vogt, right, at Camp Castor near Gao, Mali (File)

    German Defense Minister Under Pressure as More Abuse Allegations Dog Bundeswehr

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    German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has faced criticism for her handling of recent abuse allegations in the Bundeswehr, is facing more pressure because the number of abuse of allegations has rocketed.

    The number of complaints of sexual abuse, right-wing extremism and misconduct by superiors in the German army has increased significantly, the Ministry of Defense disclosed on Saturday.

    So far this year, 56 cases of superiors maltreating subordinates had been reported to the authorities, more than double the 28 cases that were reported last year, the Rheinische Post reported.

    Last year, there were 128 reported cases of sexual abuse, almost matched by 127 so far this year. With regard to right-wing extremism, 96 cases were reported this year in comparison with last year's 63.

    The military said that the figures are a result of greater sensitivity to abuse, following a recent series of scandals regarding right-wing extremism, sexual abuse and abuse by superiors in the German armed forces.

    "It is a good sign that the sensitivity within the troops for such incidents, after we publicly discussed them in spring, has increased considerably," a spokesman told the Rheinische Post, adding that many of the newly-reported cases did not happen recently but were reported in the light of other recent revelations.

    German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen came under pressure earlier this year after a series of scandals overshadowed her efforts to present a more modernized vision of the Bundeswehr. 

    Leyen was criticized by her own troops after blaming a mistaken sense of esprit de corps for abuse going unreported and unpunished. She also accused Bundeswehr officers of "weak leadership."

    In May, it emerged that a German soldier had been allowed to serve for several years despite his superiors being aware that he had extreme right-wing views. The soldier, Franco A., was eventually arrested on suspicion of terrorism and had reported drawn up a list of terror targets. 

    In April, it was reported that army instructors at a barracks in the Thuringian town of Sondershausen verbally abused new recruits, calling them "genetic waste," and forced them to endure long runs that sometimes caused physical collapse.

    In March, it emerged that a private in the German Gebirgsjaeger (mountain troops) had been sexually abused at barracks in Bad Reichenhall. Local prosecutors allege that bullying, sexual misconduct and animal cruelty took place there.

    In January, it was reported that recruits at barracks in Pfullendorf were subjected to violence, humiliation and sexual assault by their superiors.

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    misconduct allegations, sexual abuse, army, abuse, allegations, German Bundeswehr, Germany
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