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Hungarian court upholds conviction of Syrian man accused of “terrorism” for throwing stones

Thursday, 20 September, 2018 - 20:04

A Syrian man accused by the Hungarian authorities of having participated in violence between migrants and police in 2015, has had his sentence reduced on appeal from seven to five years in prison.

The Hungarian courts, however, maintained that 41-year-old Amed H. was guilty of “acts of terrorism” for taking part in clashes between migrants and police during the wave of migration in the summer of 2015. The case has provoked the protests among humanitarian organisations, who see it as a symbol of an abusive policy by Viktor Orban’s government towards migrants.

Ahmed H., who has lived in Cyprus for a decade, was accused of throwing projectiles at the Hungarian police who had just closed the border with Serbia in September 2015, blocking hundreds of migrants on the road to the northern Europe.

According to his testimony, he left his wife and two girls in August 2015 to help his elderly parents and six other family members flee from Syria to Europe. A month later, they became trapped when Budapest decided to close its  borders. A first verdict at the end of 2016 had sentenced him to ten years in prison but that was later quashed. Last March, the court sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Ahmed H. was also found guilty of orchestrating the violence with a megaphone on September 16, 2015, when about 15 police officers were injured as well as more than one hundred migrants who tried to break through the border at Röszke, in southern Hungary. The accused has always told the judges that he used his knowledge of English to mediate between the migrants and the police, as evidenced by a video shot that day.

Since his detention three years ago, the case of Ahmed H. has mobilised NGOs who see him as “a scapegoat”, while Washington criticised “a broad interpretation of what constitutes” terrorism. The European Parliament also denounced the his treatment.

The verdict is “the dangerous convergence of Hungary’s draconian counterterrorism laws and its ruthless crackdown on refugees and migrants,” the NGO Amnesty International said after the previous trial.

 


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