Walking through town listening to your favourite music and singing along to its tune is not something you would expect to end in court. For one 37 year old woman in Lausanne it did.
On 1 June 2016, at around 6:30pm, the woman, singing to the tune “I feel good” by James Brown, was stopped by the local Lausanne police, according to the newspaper 24 Heures. She was walking and singing her way across Place de l’Europe, near the Flon area of the city, when the police approached her near the metro entrance and issued her with a CHF 150 fine (CHF 100 fine + CHF 50 of charges). This area of Lausanne is primarily retail and offices.
The crime: guilty of breaking article 26 of the municipality’s rules. Article 26 “forbids all acts that disturb the peace and public order”.
Last year after the incident, the woman told newspapers that she was about to go into the metro when police officers came towards her and claimed she was bothering people. In addition, she said the police had been bothering her for five years. According to newspaper reports, the woman had already been convicted of arguing with the police. However she claims that the police refused to use security camera footage that would have shown she was not guilty.
Sébastien Jost, from the Lausanne police, told newspapers at the time “If officers charge someone then there was an offense.”
Aggrieved, the freelance accountant from Kosovo, decided to take her case to court. On Tuesday her case was heard. Unfortunately for the woman Lausanne’s Tribunal upheld the fine and added CHF 400 of court costs to the bill for her efforts.
Her lawyer has already announced a desire to take the case to the higher court of appeal. He thinks the sentence is arbitrary, lacking in objectivity and an assault on freedom of expression.
It might be some time before she has anything to sing about.