By Dr Rafael Brägger, Attorney at Law, Pachmann Law Firm, Zurich, Switzerland
Hardly anyone doubted that FC Zurich (FCZ) would become Swiss football champions this year for the 13th time overall and for the first time since 2009; its lead over the pursuers from Basel and Bern was too great several rounds before the end.
In addition to its successes on the pitch, FCZ also made headlines off the pitch: The dismissal of former head coach Rolf Fringer ended up before the Zurich High Court. Militant hooligans beat up opposing supporters and police officers, and on 2 October 2011 hooded FCZ supporters threw burning flares into the middle of the Grasshoppers fans' sector.
The latter case also ended up before the Zurich Higher Court, which, in line with a popular slogan of hardcore fans, concluded that "Pyrotechnics are not a serious crime!"
Indeed: according to the Supreme Court (ruling SB140349 of 31 March 2015), throwing a 1'500 degree hot sea torch into a crowd of people does not constitute "endangering life" according to Art. 129 of the Swiss Criminal Code (StGB) (on the grounds that it does not put "people's lives in immediate danger in an unscrupulous manner"), but merely constitutes simple bodily harm under Art. 123 StGB. And since the maximum penalty for the latter is no more than three years (as opposed to five years for endangering life), simple bodily harm is not a serious "crime" by virtue of Art. 10 para. 2 SCC, but merely a "misdemeanour" (Art. 10 para. 3 SCC).
Incidentally, the perpetrator was also punished for multiple offences against the Explosives Act – but this is also a misdemeanour, not a serious crime.
The conclusion of the story:
Either hooligans who torch pyros have undreamt-of legal acumen that are capable of precisely grasping the fine nuances between the individual offences – or the perpetrator was simply able to slip through a loophole in the law that should not exist anymore than the possibility of being able to transport a sea torch into the Letzigrund stadium in the first place.
A curious case!