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Public peeing OK if no one is offended: Swedish court

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Public peeing OK if no one is offended: Swedish court
11:37 CEST+02:00
A Swedish man charged with public urination has been acquitted by a Stockholm court, opening the door for thousands of others to avoid fines for heeding the call of nature in public.

Charges were originally filed against the 45-year-old resident of Nacka, a suburb of Stockholm, following a late-night emergency back in March of this year, the Metro newspaper reports.

While waiting for a bus, the 45-year-old realized he wouldn't be able to hold it in any longer and went behind a bus shelter to relieve himself, taking care to keep his back toward the sidewalk.

The man was by no means alone in failing to obey Sweden's statues against public urination. In 2009, 5,000 Swedes were slapped with a fine of 800 kronor ($120) for peeing in public, Metro reports.

Those who refuse to accept the fine, like the 45-year-old, can then contest their case in court against charges of offensive behaviour.

And if the 45-year-old's case is any guide, more full-bladdered Swedes may find it worth their while to take their public urination fines to court.

In throwing out the charges against the 45-year-old, the Nacka District Court cited a previous appeals court ruling in which a man was acquitted because he didn't intend to offend anyone when he unzipped his trousers.

“There is a ruling with legal force where a man was acquitted for the same reason after having peed behind a container. The court of appeal found then, just as we have, that the intent to offend or offensiveness in and of itself, was lacking,” Annika Johansson, a judge with the district court in Nacka, told Metro.

Specifically, the court found that the 45-year-old had taken sufficient measures to not offend or upset any passersby.

But prosecutor Silvia Ingolfsdottir still may appeal the Nacka ruling, claiming that intent or the presence of an offended witness shouldn't matter in adjudicating a case of public urination.

In the mean time, Swedes who can't make it to the toilet would be well served to at least do their best to find a secluded place to relieve themselves, if they want to have a have a chance at winning their case in court.

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