Protester faces HUF 660,000 fine and three years imprisonment for painting flagpole with food coloring

July 13, 2017

Police say the flagpole standing in front of the Hungarian Parliament incurred some HUF 660,000 (USD 2,450) in damages during an anti-government street protest in April, and are holding a single protester responsible for paying the damages.

According to index.hu, the protester was searched by police after being photographed on April 12 writing on the flagpole with food coloring during a large protest in front of Parliament. According to police documents, the suspect “tainted the pole with an unknown kind of paint, and wrote the following text on its surface with a felt pen: ‘We came to consult’ and ‘Party state’.”

A search of the suspect allegedly produced a felt pen, a highlighter and empty boxes of food coloring.

The suspect is charged with a property crime of high value, which is punishable by up to three years jail time.

Responding to the charges, the suspect wrote, “I assume that if Marci [and Gergő] received a total of 500 hours public work for 23,000 forints in damages, then I can count on 3 million, thirty-six thousand hours.” This was a reference to the sentence received by two other activists for throwing paint at the Presidential Palace during a protest, causing minimal damage.

Responding to questions from Index, the National Assembly office claimed that a major segment of the flagpole had to be repainted to cover the food coloring and felt pen markings, costing the office HUF 660,000, plus tax.