“Happy is the country that has such terrorists.” – István Szikinger, defense council for György Budaházy.
On Tuesday the Budapest Court found György Budaházy and 17 co-defendants guilty of terrorism, inflicting bodily wounds and coercion. The founder of an organization calling itself “The Arrows of the Hungarians” ( A Magyarok Nyilai) was sentenced to 13 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
(The name of the domestic terrorist organization was taken from medieval prayer invoking the protection of God from the “arrows of the Hungarians” who marauded the length and breadth of Europe before being decisively defeated at the battle of Battle of Lechfeld in 955.)
Two of Budaházy’s co-defendants were given suspended sentences. The rest were given prison sentences ranging from 10 months to 12 years. The decision was announced to a courtroom packed with radical right-wing sympathizers and supporters, including former Jobbik MEP Krisztina Morvai. The judge instructed police to remove a number of visitors when they became disruptive.
The judgement marks the first time anyone in Hungary has ever been convicted of terrorism.
Malicious beating, arson, bombings
The court found that between 2007 and 2009 “The Arrows of the Hungarians” had committed a series of terrorist acts in order to foment fear in Hungary. The defendants were accused of using Molotov cocktails against MSZP and SZDSZ party offices, officials and the homes of leading left-wing politicians. Targets included the countryside home of György Szilvásy who served as Minister for State Secrets under the administration of Ferenc Gyurcsány, MSZP politician István Hiller and former SZDSZ parliamentary whip János Kóka.
Prosecutors cited the brutal beating of HírTV program host Sándor Csintalan, a former MSZP politician, in 2007 by four assailants wearing masks and shouting “you dirty, smelly Jew!” Prosecutors claim the attack was ordered by Budaházy after Csintalan claimed Budaházy was an agent.
The organization was also accused of staging attacks on nightclubs, a ticket office and gay bars, as well as blowing up an ATM machine at a Székesfehérvár bank.
A hero of the far right, Budaházy was taken into preventative custody in 2009 where he remained for more than two years before being held under house arrest for another three years. The Hungarian Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that writings he published in 2006 and 2007 did not constitute a violent threat to Hungary’s constitutional order and in 2014 he was allowed to go free.
Prosecutors originally asked that Budaházy be sentenced to 20 years in prison, pointing out that the series of terrorist attacks was unprecedented. Budaházy’s lawyer, István Szikinger, argued that his client should be cleared of all charges. “Happy is the country that has such terrorists,” Szikinger told the court in May.