• Switzerland's news in English

Soldier jailed for saying 'bonjour' to superior

21 Sep 2011, 15:24

Published: 21 Sep 2011 16:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Sep 2011 15:24 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A Swiss army soldier who greeted a colonel at the entrance to his barracks in Canton Wallis with a lively morning "bonjour" has been sentenced to four days in prison for his unsuitable greeting. 

The 28-year old "Philemon K.", from Wil in in eastern Switzerland, was on an army refresher course at the time of his misplaced pleasantry, Blick newspaper reported.

The chirpy soldier, who normally works as a car painter, said he had only wanted to be polite when he arrived for morning duty on September 12th at the St Maurice barracks in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, just south of Montreux.

“I was glad to be there and have always been a proud soldier,“ he said.

The incident occurred when the colonel arrived at the barracks in uniform but in a civilian vehicle. The soldier, who did not recognize his superior, asked to see his credentials as he greeted him with the decidedly unmilitary "bonjour".

The soldier said the blunder led to him being interrogated by the enraged colonel for 45 minutes. He was then ordered to spend four days in prison, to be served after his army course.

Philemon K. said he is disappointed as he never has had any problems in the army before.

“How am I supposed to explain this to my employer? What will he think of me when I tell him I have to go to jail?“ he asked.

The soldier said he even wrote the colonel a letter to say sorry, but his apology was not accepted.

Peter Malama, an FDP (Liberal) member of parliament and himself a colonel, told Blick he believed a reprimand would have sufficed as he decried the punishment as an excessive "display of power". 

Philemon K. said he is hoping to be relieved of his punishment as he has to return to work and cannot afford to go to the military court to plead his case.

“I feel totally powerless and at their mercy,“ he said.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available