MALMO, Sweden (AFP) - Video footage of a Moroccan boy begging for mercy as a security guard bangs his head against a brick floor has shocked Sweden as the country grapples with a record influx of child refugees.
Several witnesses last week uploaded video clips to YouTube showing a security guard straddling the nine-year-old boy inside the Malmoe central station.
Crying and gasping for air, the boy can be heard reciting an Islamic prayer that is sometimes said when a person is about to die.
"The clip does not do reality justice," a witness who declined to be named wrote in regional daily Sydsvenskan.
"You cannot capture the boy's cry for help, his prayer and the muffled thump of the skull against the stone floor," he added.
The security guard has been suspended pending a police investigation into the incident, which took place after the boy boarded a train without a ticket.
The footage has shocked Sweden, the first country in the world to ban corporal punishment for children, and a nation that prides itself on having some of Europe's most generous asylum policies.
After the incident the boy was returned to a care home where he had been placed after arriving in Sweden, but within a few hours ran away with a 12-year-old boy, described in the media as being his half brother, from a car taking them to local Migration Board offices.
He was found by police in neighbouring Denmark on Friday, in the midst of a national outcry over racism among security staff and police.
"The nine-year-old boy has been found in the Jutland region of Denmark," Malmoe police spokesman Mats Karlsson told AFP.
Police have been criticised for making flippant remarks about the boys in the media - including one-liners like "He took off like a pay cheque" - and for only stepping up the search for them after public outrage began to build.
"Would a blond head have been banged against the floor?" columnist Lars Lindstroem wrote in tabloid Expressen, while author Jonas Gardell wrote an emotional text contrasting the boy's fate to that of his nine-year-old daughter.
More than a third of residents in Malmoe, Sweden's third largest city with a population of 315,000, are immigrants and the area is home to one of Scandinavia's largest Muslim communities.
However, south Sweden is also where the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats traditionally draw most of their support and surveys consistently show that young people in the region have a more negative view of immigrants than in the rest of the country.
When the immigrant-heavy neighbourhood of Rosengaard - once home to Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic - was hit by rioting in 2008, a policeman was filmed using racial slurs and likening one of the rioters to a monkey.
Malmoe police have also come in for criticism for using derogatory words for black people to refer to criminals during training exercises.
Sweden welcomes more child refugees than any other European nation, with a record admission of 7,000 children in 2014, marking a more than tenfold increase over the past decade.
Per capita, the country takes in more refugees than any other country in Europe but a failure to integrate immigrants in the job market has fuelled support for the Sweden Democrats, which garnered just under 13 per cent of the vote in last year's general election.