Calling someone a “foreign pig” or “dirty asylum-seeker” is insulting but is not against Switzerland's anti-racism law, the Alpine country's top court said in a ruling released on Friday.
The Federal Tribunal found in favour of a police officer who had used the slurs when he arrested an Algerian suspected thief.
The incident took place at a trade fair in the northern city of Basel in April 2007, where the Algerian was detained for allegedly snatching a Russian man's bag.
After checking the suspect's identity papers, the policeman discovered that he was an asylum-seeker and proceed to insult him.
As a result, the officer received a suspended fine for breaking the country's anti-racism laws.
After the penalty was overturned by another court, the case worked its way up to the top of the Swiss justice system.
The Federal Tribunal said that while such terms were clearly insulting, they were too broad to fall foul of anti-racism rules because they did not target a particular ethnic group, race or religion.
It also said calling someone “dirty” - even if the individual's nationality was mentioned - was not against the anti-racism law. - Sapa-AFP