Calling someone a "foreign pig" or "dirty asylum-seeker" is insulting but is not against Switzerland's anti-racism law, the country's top court said in a ruling released on Friday.
The supreme court 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 Lausanne-based federal court 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.