The “gawking migrants” story reported by independent broadcaster ATV and seized on by the government as justification for its xenophobic policies had no basis in reality, according to a police investigation.
The article published on May 5 claimed that a group of refugees residing at the small make-shift camp in the western Hungarian town of Körmend were caught gawking at teenage girls playing handball. Atv.hu also reported the refugees broke the window of a neighboring building and that parents and students in the area were terrified.
The government quickly seized the opportunity to raise some anti-migrant sentiment. Next day, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ordered Interior Minister Sándor Pintér to immediately get to the bottom of what happened in Körmend in order “to protect the Hungarian people”.
During his weekly governmental press conference, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár promised Körmend would not be “another Cologne”. Only a week after the incident, people living in Körmend were terrified, according to an article published on Hungarian news website Abcúg.hu, with some parents even forbidding their daughters to walk alone in the streets.
The whole story became suspicious when the mayor of Körmend, representatives of the Vas county police department and Hungary’s immigration agency held a press conference at the beginning of May to dispel rumors.
János Tiborcz, captain of the Vas county police department, told members of the press that police have not found any reason to implicate a single migrant in alleged acts of violence — reports of violence were subsequently shown to be false.
It turned out that the reports of “gawking migrants” were greatly exaggerated, and the volleyball coach who informed the press had learned second-hand about the alleged incident. Furthermore, the “broken window” turned out to be a small basement window (hardly suitable for gawking) which, in all likelihood, was broken some time earlier.
Now, months later police finally confirmed that the whole story was false. In a statement on their official homepage, police claimed there was no sign of violence at the asylum center.
“The infringement proceedings started on 4th May 2016 against unknown perpetrators have been terminated. According to authorities, no offence was committed,” writes the official statement, putting an end to months of questions.