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Calling a police officer 'dude' is a punishable offence in Austria

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Photo: Paul Gillingwater
16:20 CET+01:00
An Austrian football fan learnt the hard way that it's not the done thing to be too familiar with a police officer.

According to a federal court, calling a policeman ‘Oida', an Austrian/Bavarian dialect word which roughly translates as ‘dude’ or ‘man’, is a punishable offence.

The incident occurred at a football stadium in Pasching in Upper Austria. The fan in question had hung a banner in front of the stadium, and a police officer told him to take it down. The fan replied “let it go, dude”. The officer filed a report, saying that the man had spoken to him disrespectfully, and he was ordered to pay a fine of €100 by the local district authority.

The fan contested the fine, and took the case to the Regional Court of Appeal, arguing that ‘Oida’ is a normal and acceptable slang word used by young people. The court looked into the origins of the word ‘Oida’ and found that it comes from the Viennese word ‘Hawara’, meaning friend or crony. It ruled that the word is not appropriate to use when speaking to a police officer, as the police are not friends or cronies of the general public.

The court did not say whether addressing an officer with the Viennese word ‘Kieberer’, a slang word used to describe a policeman, is also a punishable offence.

The court said that the use of such words depends on the situation, and that what is inappropriate in one situation could be fine in another. However, the judge said that in the case in question the choice of words was inappropriate. He ruled that the man be given a warning, and said that as the offence was only minor the €100 fine should be dropped. 

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