In the “Day of Honor” trial, the Italian defendant was led into the courtroom in Budapest in chains. The heads of state are said to have spoken on the phone afterwards. There is also news about the German secret service.
The case of Ilaria S., an Italian woman imprisoned in Hungary for allegedly attacking far-right demonstrators in Budapest a year ago, is increasingly becoming a source of tension between the two EU partner states. The teacher from Milan describes herself as an anti-fascist and was presented at a hearing before the municipal court in Budapest with handcuffs and shackles and an additional chain. Italy’s conservative Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani summoned the Hungarian ambassador in Rome on Tuesday and demanded that the government in Budapest allow the 39-year-old teacher to leave the country.
The trial of three activists from Germany and Italy began in Budapest on Monday. Background is the “Day of Honor”, on which neo-Nazis meet every year in the Hungarian capital for one of the largest marches in Europe. It commemorates the unsuccessful attempts by German and Hungarian troops to break through the Soviet siege around Budapest on February 11, 1945. Last year, nine actual or alleged right-wing extremists were injured by attackers during this “hero’s commemoration”; the accused are said to have used striking tools.
The three defendants are accused by the public prosecutor of belonging to an “organisation of young adults sympathetic to extreme left-wing ideology” founded in Germany. The members of this criminal organization had received “strength training sessions” and “selected victims” had been attacked with lethal weapons, among other things.
Tobias E., who comes from Berlin, pleaded guilty to the charge of membership on Monday and was sentenced to three years in prison in a shortened trial. The court took into account the defendant’s integrity and the fact that he is facing further criminal proceedings in Germany. One of the aggravating factors for the alleged offence was “its international nature, the frame of a cross-border organisation and the fact that the defendant was a leader in the criminal organisation therefore played an active role in the attacks”. The public prosecutor and the defendant are appealing against the verdict.
Ilaria S. is also accused of two counts of grievous bodily harm; however, like Anna M., who is also from Germany, she denies membership of the alleged association. Anna M. was again granted parole and was allowed to leave the country after the preliminary proceedings on Monday, but must comply with reporting requirements at her place of residence.
The proceedings will continue in a main hearing on May 24. The prosecution’s sentence is still unknown; in the event of a confession, they had demanded eleven years in prison for Ilaria S. and three and a half years for Anna M.. They are also to be banned from entering the country for ten and five years respectively.
Ilaria S. was led into court “like a dog”, her lawyer commented on Monday. “An Italian woman in chains – shackled hand and foot in Hungary,” wrote Giuseppe Conte, leader of the opposition Five Star Movement in Italy, the following day. The far-right Lega Nord also made a similar statement: “We regret the treatment of Ilaria S. and hope that she can prove her innocence,” said the party’s deputy secretary. On Tuesday evening, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is said to have spoken on the phone with her counterpart and political friend Victor Orbán about the matter.
Hungary also wants to put the Italian Gabriele M. on trial in the Antifa trial; he is currently under house arrest in Milan pending extradition proceedings. In recent weeks, the responsible deputy chief public prosecutor Cuno Tarfusser had already questioned the extradition of Gabriele M. in view of the inhumane conditions of Ilaria S.’s detention. After Monday’s pictures from the courtroom, Tarfusser wants to reject the request. “I will certainly not be Orbán’s right-hand man abroad. If a state deviates from a common European interpretation of the law, I have to take that into account as an Italian judge,” the newspaper “Il Manifesto” quotes him as saying. A decision could be made after a hearing on February 13.
In Germany, Maja T., who is in custody in Dresden, is awaiting an extradition decision in the same case. The Hungarian authorities, together with the Saxon State Criminal Police Office, are also searching for a total of 14 other people; at least four are believed to have been involved in the attacks in Budapest.
Last week, relatives of the wanted persons made it public that they had been approached by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in order to persuade them to cooperate. As far as is known, all of the wanted persons had refused, reported a parents’ initiative.
New details have now emerged: According to the initiative, there were a total of twelve such approaches by parents, grandparents, siblings and friends in the federal states of Saxony, Thuringia, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria. Most of the cases are said to have occurred on December 6.
There is no way of verifying this; when asked, the secret service stated that it does not comment on “such matters”. However, the background to this could be a deal in which the wanted persons are promised to refuse extradition to Hungary if they surrender and face trial in Germany. However, the Public Prosecutor General’s Office in Dresden would have to approve the proposal.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: The Italian Ilaria S. was led into court “like a dog”, protests her lawyer (Screenshot/TG3).