Dutch man suspected of branding kids during summer camp

A 24-year-old man from Goes is suspected of burning three children with a branding iron during a summer camp at a campsite in Belgium last year. Youth leader Mark B. appeared in court on Thursday. He is charged with causing the children serious bodily harm with premeditation, RTL Nieuws reports.

The camp happened in August last year. B. took the branding iron with him to camp. He heated it in the fire and the pushed it against the backs of three children, two boys and a girl between the ages of 12 and 14 years. The letters F and N were branded onto their bodies - the abbreviation of the scouting group they belonged to: Frans Naerebout.

According to the Public Prosecutor, the children screamed when they were branded. Remarkably, the summer camp wasn't ended immediately after the incident. The children were not taken to a hospital, and no doctor was called to the camp. They kids were only given pills for the pain and an ointment for the wounds. They had huge blisters on their backs. 

Why the youth leader did this, is not clear. The Public Prosecutor suspects that some kind of hazing ritual was involved. The children sustained permanent damage and may have to undergo plastic surgery. 

It was only at the end of the camp that the board members of the scouting group discovered what happened. "They immediately took action", a spokesperson for Scouting Nederland said to RTL Nieuws. The youth leader was suspended immediately, and is still on suspension. "We find it terrible what happened at the camp. The behavior of this leader in no way fits with the principles that Scouting Nederland maintains." He will be fired if he is convicted.