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Wind of justice: Austrian man fined for farting on police has sentence reduced on appeal

The 500 fine issued by Vienna police for a "provocative" fart made headlines around the world last year.

People in the Stadt Park in Vienna
JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The Viennese man was given the fine after “letting wind escape loudly” last June, following an identity check by police in a park Der Standard newspaper reports. 

The news made headlines across the world, forcing Vienna police to issue a clarification on social media that “of course no-one will be reported for accidentally ‘letting one go’ once”.

The man had challenged the fine, saying although he had farted, this was a “biological process”, which would have amounted to freedom of expression even if it had been done deliberately. 

The administrative court reduced the penalty from €500 euros to €100 euros, pointing to the man’s lack of a criminal record while saying he only had “average” culpability of the offence

Friends ‘laughed and made jokes’

The Vienna Regional Administrative Court stated in its ruling that the man was on a park bench, when he lifted his buttocks and let the wind escape in a way which was perceived by everyone present.

The man’s friends laughed and joked about the incident.

According to the administrative court, the basic right to freedom of communication is not limited to a certain form of communication, but a statement must also have a certain “communicative content”.

However, this is not the case with “pure body stimuli”, the court said, according to the newspaper report.

Makes state order ‘ridiculous’

It concluded even if it were accepting that farting were to accept an act of communication, the wind would still be a “form of expression that transcends the boundaries of decency”. 

The court added “form of action seems suitable to completely undermine any state order and to make it ridiculous”, according to Der Standard newspaper. 

The paper also features comments from Paul Eberstaller, university assistant at the Juridicum, who says the ruling shows how problematic the offence of decency is, particularly when comparing public and private life. 

“If a private person had been a ‘victim’ in this case, public decency would not be violated. In addition, the authorities would probably not pursue complaints from private individuals. At the same time, legal protection is often lacking in the event of actual problems,” he said. 

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Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria’s biggest open air festival

Austria has the largest free open-air festival in Europe, and the Donauinselfest is taking place this weekend. Here is what you need to know.

Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria's biggest open air festival

The Austrian Donauinselfest is known as the largest free open-air music festival in Europe, and it happens yearly on Vienna’s Danube island. The festival attracts around three million visitors over its three days of events and is starting on Friday in the Austrian capital.

The festival has been taking place yearly since 1983 on the 21.1-kilometre river island. This year, it has 14 different areas and 11 stages, according to the official website. Visitors can expect more than 600 hours of program.

READ ALSO: The best festivals and events to enjoy in Austria this summer

Here is what you need to know to enjoy the programme fully.

When and where is the festival?

The festival has an extensive range of events starting on Friday, June 24th, and lasting until Sunday, June 26th. It takes place on the island between the new Danube and the Danube rivers, known as the Donauinsel.

READ ALSO: 7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

It is easily accessible via the U1 (Donauinsel station) and U6 (Handelskai station) metro and there are no parking spaces available near the festival site.

Admission to the event is free.

The festival is back after the pandemic

After two years of reduced capacity and many Covid-19 restrictions, the Donauinselfest is back to (almost) normal. There is no limit to the number of visitors, no requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the disease, and no mask mandate.

However, the authorities have asked that people take “personal responsibility” as coronavirus infection numbers have been rising.

READ ALSO: Five of the best things to do in Vienna this summer

The organisers have requested people to get tested before visiting the vast festival, Vienna.at reported.

People gather on the shores of the Danube river, in Vienna during a hot sunny day and Danube Day on June 29, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

“We ask everyone who would like to visit the Donauinselfest this year to take a PCR or rapid test in advance and thus protect themselves and others. People with symptoms are not allowed to enter the festival grounds.”, said organiser Matthias Friedrich.

Though masks are not mandatory, they are recommended on-site if it is too full of people and no social distancing is possible. Besides, there is a masks requirement to all Donauinselfest workers in indoor areas.

Watch out for what you cannot bring

There is an extensive list of things that are not allowed on the festival site. For example, visitors are not allowed to take large bags and backpacks (“A3 format”, according to the website). However, a gym bag is not considered a backpack.

Animals, including dogs, are prohibited – except for guide dogs and service dogs.

You are also not allowed to bring umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, cans, glass bottles, or drones. The list of prohibited items includes “propaganda material”, spray bottles, whistles, large or bulky objects, bicycles and skateboards, stools and chairs, food and more.

Check out the complete list here.

Danube festival

Vienna’s “Danube-island” Festival will return this weekend. (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

READ ALSO: Forecast: Austria set for high temperatures and storms throughout weekend and beyond

You can – and should – bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as temperatures are expected to be around the 30Cs over the next few days.

What kind of music is there?

The festival has several stages and a broad programme selection. The bands are usually more regional, with a significant presence of Austrian, German, and Italian bands.

You can find all sorts of music, from pop to rock, rap, and techno. There are even tribute bands like Break Free, which will play Queen’s best signs on the rock stage.

The program includes other activities as well, such as poetry slam, art stages, sport areas, and even events for families and children.

You can check the official program here.

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