A Swedish court has found an Italian father guilty of abuse for pulling his 12-year-old son's hair at a Stockholm restaurant during a family vacation.

The father, 45-year-old Giovanni Colasante, a municipal politician from southern Italy, was ordered to pay a fine of 6,600 kronor (€725), Stockholm district court documents obtained by AFP showed.

Sweden introduced a total ban on corporal punishment against children in 1979, the first country in the world to do so. Swedes are in general proud of the legislation and do not hesitate to report suspect cases to police.

Colasante was visiting Stockholm's Old Town in August with family and friends when the group decided to sit down at a restaurant for a meal, according to court documents.

The adults sat down to sample local Swedish cuisine but the son wanted to eat pizza and ran off when he did not get his way.

The father ran after him and grabbed him by the nape of the neck and his hair.

Passersby called police who arrested the father on the spot.

"The court finds it proven that Giovanni Colasante intentionally caused his son pain by pulling his hair. This act is to be considered abuse," the court ruled.

The father had pleaded innocent, insisting he was only trying to prevent his son from running off.

Of the EU's 27 member states, 16 have laws against corporal punishment. In Italy it is forbidden in schools, but not at home.

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