Migrants Found Guilty in Scandalous Trial in Hungary

On Friday 1st July, ten of the eleven people who were arrested and accused in September last year at Röszke/ Horgos border crossing were found guilty in Szeged, Hungary. They were sentenced for participating in a ‘mass riot’ and crossing into Hungary without permission. The trial was based on vague accusations. The eleven accused were arbitrarily arrested out of the crowd that protested for their freedom of movement on the 16 September 2015. Among the accused are particularly vulnerable people: „I committed nothing,“ Fahdawy Ghazy, one of the accused, told Reuters through an interpreter.“ The court had no proof to the contrary, despite nine months they had to build the case against us.“ He is bound to a wheelchair because of war injuries from Syria.

There are some major mistakes in the „proofs“ brought forward by the Hungarian police and the request of the defense lawyer to show important video material as proof was refused by the judge Arany János.

The first six of the accused received a one year and two months prison sentence, plus several years of expulsion from Hungary. The 7th accused, a 20-year-old Syrian who was talking into a megaphone for a short period of time, received a three years prison sentence and ten years expulsion. The 8th person accused, an elderly, half-blind woman has a refugee status with international protection, but Hungary wants to review this status now. The other two vulnerable people – a man in a wheelchair and an older man with health problems – are now expelled from Hungary for two and for four years respectively, regardless of their asylum claim eight months ago. Despite the already outrageous outcome of the trial, the prosecutor decided to take the case to an upper court and asked for a more severe sentence for all of the accused.

The process against the elevenths accused, A.H., is held separately. His trail will continue in September at the court in Szeged. A.H. is framed as the main responsible for the riots and constructed as a “terrorist”, for throwing stones and speaking into a megaphone. However, evidence shows that he was trying to calm down the crowd and communicate with the police, mentioning that there were kids, older people and injured people among the refugees.

The Human Rights Organization Hungarian Helsinki Committee criticizes the absurdity of the trial. Migszol Hungary (Solidarity with Migrants in Hungary) denounces the trial as a ’show trial‘. The lawyer Tamas Fazekas of the Helsinki Committee already announced that the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. International solidarity initiatives expressed their skepticism and anger about the court decision. On 30 June 2016, a solidarity demonstration took place during the trials in front of the court in Szeged. On 4 July 2016, a demonstration took place in Budapest in front of the Upper Court to protest against the outrageous outcome of the trials.

The trails criminalize the right of people on the move to protest against border restrictions on the one hand, on the other hand they try to deter people from coming to Hungary. Nevertheless, hundreds of people continue to cross Hungary every day.

Background information

  • English: Migszol
  • The English translation of the trial of Ahmed H. accused of terrorism in Hungary
  • Hungarian (13 Absurdities of the Trial, collected by a Hungarian lawyer of the trial): Helsinki Figyelö
  • For more information on solidarity actions see: Facebook