Sommacal v. Chief Auditor of the Army and Confederal Military Department

1971 BGE 97 I 143 (1971)

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Sommacal v. Chief Auditor of the Army and Confederal Military Department

Swiss Federal Supreme Court
1971 BGE 97 I 143 (1971)

Facts

Gunner Carlo Sommacal (defendant) was a conscript in the Swiss military who held civilian jobs as an insurance agent and part-time journalist when not on active duty with the military. Sommacal’s military unit attended a training-refresher course commanded by Colonel Carlo Baumann. Baumann’s strict directions, along with bad weather during the course, made the course particularly challenging. After the course ended and Sommacal returned to his civilian life, Sommacal wrote and published an article giving a negative overview of the course. The article criticized Baumann and provided several alleged examples of how the course was an unpleasant experience for many soldiers. However, the article never specifically mentioned Sommacal or his personal experiences. The military investigated the article’s allegations and determined that many of the allegations were exaggerated or untrue and that no officer or soldier had committed any punishable offense during the course. The chief auditor of the Army and Confederal Military Department (plaintiff) then brought charges against Sommacal in military court for (1) damaging Baumann’s honor through slander and (2) breaching military regulations. Sommacal filed a complaint with the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, arguing that the military court had no personal jurisdiction over him for the slander charge because this charge was not related to his military position or responsibilities.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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