Hungarian court acquits camerawoman who kicked migrants

Published 31.10.2018 21:59

A Hungarian television camerawoman who made headlines in 2015 after tripping and kicking migrants fleeing police was acquitted Tuesday by the country's Supreme Court.

"The video reporter was acquitted owing to the lack of a violation," a court statement said, after judges ruled that Petra Laszlo had not been correctly charged by lower courts.

Laszlo made headlines in September 2015 when she tripped a man who was sprinting with a child in his arms, and kicked another running child near the town of Roszke, close to the border with Serbia.

The incident occurred at the time when thousands of refugees and migrants were arriving at the Hungarian border via the Balkan route. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a fierce anti-immigration campaigner, had been passing measures to stem the influx. A few weeks after the September 8 incident, his government completed the construction of a fence laced with razor wire along the border with Serbia. By March 2016, all countries on the Balkan route had stopped allowing migrants passage en route to wealthier parts of Europe.

The Supreme Court considered the context of "an assault by several hundred migrants fleeing a police intervention." It deemed that Laszlo's act, "while morally incorrect and illicit, was a disruption, not vandalism." That was the charge brought against her in lower courts, for which she was sentenced in January 2017 to three years' probation.

The camerawoman, who was fired over her actions, had been working for N1TV, an internet-based television station close to Hungary's far-right Jobbik party. "I turned and saw several hundred people charging toward me, it was quite incredibly frightening," she said.

The Syrian father that she tripped and his son obtained asylum in Spain, where the father landed a job with a football coaching school and his son ran with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo onto the pitch in Madrid before a match.

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