In May last year, students at Samskolan in Saltsjöbaden, Sweden, were shocked when a black teacher assaulted a student, hitting him in the face and according to several witnesses even strangled him when he was on the ground. The teacher, from Africa, was a member of the municipal council for the Green Party as well as a candidate for the EU election in 2014.
The court’s verdict has now been handed down: The politician Pascal Mafall Fall, only received a suspended sentence because the district court believes that he may have received “hate and threats” from the student after the incident and that he had been “provoked” – but the only source for these claims, is the black politician himself.
In May last year, John, who was in eighth grade, ended up in a discussion with 52-year-old Pascal Mafall Fall, a teacher of English and French at the school. Pascal wanted to give an E, the second lowest grade, to some students who had not handed in an assignment on time. John, one of these students, objected that it was unfair because it only affected a few students that Pascal himself had selected – those who were not selected had the chance of a higher grade even if they did not pass. There was a discussion and Pascal Mafall Fall finally erupted.
“He said ‘fuck off’ and asked me to leave the classroom. I said ‘I’ll leave then, you idiot’ and walked out of the classroom, John told Swedish daily Nya Tider.
“Then I turn around, because I hear him screaming at me, and he comes running towards me when I’m on my way out. He grabs my collar and pushes me up, his knuckles pressing against my throat so I can not breathe properly.”
According to John and his classmate Lisa, Fall lifted John off the ground so that his feet no longer touched the floor. John desperately tried to break free and eventually pushed the teacher, making him even more furious.
The African then continued to assault the teenager, throwing him down “so that I hit the back of my head against the stone floor”. The black teacher did not stop there: “Then he sits on me and strangles me, in what for me felt like an eternity. I thought I was going to die,” John added.
Two girls then arrived to witness the scene of extreme violence. They told the police during the interrogation: “John was lying on the ground and Pascal was sitting on him, and the closer I get I see that John is red in the face. As a pure reflex, I threw my books on the floor and ran forward and shouted ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ to Pascal and then I pushed him away. He was closing both his hands with pressure around his [John’s] throat, he [John] was red in the face. Had no one been there, I think John would have lost consciousness.”
Finally, another teacher arrived and escorted Fall to a classroom. During a medical examination, it was found that John had suffered a substantial nasal injury, several scratches on the face, bruise marks around his neck and a slight concussion. “The patient has been subjected to abuse and has sustained injuries that indicate quite severe violence,” the medical record stated.
Pascal Mafall Fall comes from Senegal, moved to Sweden in 1996 and has obtained Swedish citizenship. At the time of the assault, he was not only a teacher at the school but also a politician for the Green Party, a member of Nacka City Council and in the municipality’s leisure committee.
In 2014, he was on the Green Party’s EU list to advance “climate policy, migration and job creation”. In a now deleted article on the party’s website, he explained that he was worried about “xenophobic parties” who want to “close the EU to the outside world”.
In a picture on the Green Party’s website, Pascal Mafall Fall appeared in a conversation with the current Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin. “Pascal Mafall Fall and Isabella Lövin talk about green policies.” Even that image has now been removed.
Sidney Holm, opposition councilor for the Green Party in Saltsjöbaden, was interviewed by the online newspaper Samhällsnytt last year after the assault. He then said that Pascal Mafall Fall would retain his seat on the municipal council pending a message from the police, but that he would not be allowed to attend meetings while the investigation was ongoing.
When Nya Tider contacted Holm recently, he said that the party would now exclude Pascal Mafall Fall.
From the outset, Fall seemed to have decided to lie about everything and portray himself as innocent. Shortly after the assault, he accused John of attacking him on Facebook.
“I quit the co-educational school because according to the school’s rules, teachers should not react when you are called an ‘idiot Negro’ and beaten by a student. I have learned to ignore racist attacks, which in itself is sad, but I can not ignore assault,” Fall wrote.
The witness however firmly rejected Fall’s version of the events and said that this had not been the case. She confirmed John’s story – that he called Fall an “idiot” but not a “Negro” and that this was only after Fall got upset and became unreasonable. Fall assaulted John and not the other way around.
During the police interrogation, Fall maintained that he only “held” John and that John then hit him with his fist and that he later, when witnesses testified that he had been strangling John, that in fact he had only “held John’s hands”.
John told Nya Tider that even though he had witnesses on his side, no one at the school supported his version because the school wanted to remain “neutral”. He said: “It felt a bit like they were protecting his [Fall’s] back.”
Fall was not fired but was suspended and was allowed to resign. “It looks good for him, and then he can work at another school.” The school’s deputy principal Max Ljungberg, who is responsible for John’s grade, was the one who had the first conversation with the teenager. He also happened to be the African’s Green Party comrade.
The trial against Pascal Mafall Fall ended with only a suspended sentence for normal assault in the Nacka District Court. The verdict is characterized by a number of peculiar arguments. Fall was not convicted for the strangulation but only for the assault. Even though doctors said the violence had been “quite severe” and that the injuries to his neck were consistent with strangulation, the Nacka District Court ignored these facts.
“Based on what has emerged in the case, it is not possible to completely ignore the fact that Pascal Fall may have acted after a certain form of provocation on John’s part.” It is not clear however whether this refers to John allegedly hitting Fall or the alleged racial slur.
According to the district court, “hatred and threats have emerged both directly against him [Fall] and in various contexts on social media”. But there is nothing in the preliminary investigation report and it is not clear how this could have “emerged”.
One of the witnesses explained to the police: “He [Fall] gets angry very easily. We knew this was going to happen someday, he was like a ticking bomb against some people. Including me.”