On the eve of the Elitlopp, a criminal prosecutor in Sweden has officially charged top trainer and driver Ake Svanstedt with breaches of the Swedish law against animal cruelty.
Mr. Svanstedt, who denies all charges, is charged with asking two of his second trainers to use an electrical device to shock some of his horses in training in an effort to make them run faster. Allegations have surfaced over the years that Ake Svanstedt used illegal methods in his training regiment, but it wasn't until this past year when a television program interviewed former employees of Svanstedt's stable that police got involved in the case.
Since then, more former employees have come forward with detailed descriptions of the infractions. The prosecutor said in his filing that he plans to bring nine witnesses including at least two current licensed trainers. He also said that he expects a conviction.
The Swedish Trotting Association has decided to lie low until the trial has been concluded, but early in the process, the President of the Association was quoted as saying that a conviction of this cruelty would result in a multi-year suspension.