Refugee-kicking camera operator sentenced to 3 years probation

January 13, 2017

Photo: Reuters/Marko Djurica

The Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed kicking refugees at the Serbian border in 2015 has been sentenced to three years probation for public misconduct by a Szeged court, reports Petra László, who was working at the border for radical right-wing internet news channel N1TV, has appealed the ruling.

László was captured on video on September 8, 2015 tripping a man carrying a child, then kicking a man and a little girl as a group of refugees hurried past her, for which she was later fired from N1TV. Although her actions were violent, prosecutors only charged her with public misconduct on the grounds that there was no evidence she acted out of malice with intent to cause bodily harm, or that her actions were motivated by knowledge of her victims’ country of origin. László’s defense lawyer sought her acquittal, arguing that she had acted in self defense, while the prosecution argued for the maximum penalty of a heavy fine. If Lázsló does not commit any further crimes during the three-year probation, the conviction will be dismissed.

László was not present during proceedings but was connected to the courtroom through a closed-circuit television connection. She has claimed she fears for her safety after receiving death threats, and earlier told Russian newspaper Izvesztyija that she and her family would be emigrating to Russia because she does not feel safe at home in Hungary. She complained in court of having been the subject of a “hate campaign” and said her life had been “derailed.”

The judge remarked that László’s claim of self defense was unacceptable because the refugees running from the police clearly attempted to go around anyone who stood in their path. Additionally, he said, no journalist or camera operator on the scene besides László found it necessary to resort to violence.