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Retrial of Ahmed H begins in Szeged

Photo: Index.hu/János Bődey

A Szeged court has begun hearing testimony in the retrial of Ahmed H, the Syrian-born Cypriot national who was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison in December 2016. An appeals court ordered a retrial in June, ruling that not all available evidence had been considered during the first-level trial.

Ahmed H was represented by new counsel during the appeals hearing – former Minister of Justice Péter Bárándy (2002-2004) – who is also representing him in the retrial.

“The first-level court collected the evidence but its actions of deliberations were unsatisfactory,” Bárándy said of Ahmed H’s first trial. Bárándy said he hopes Hungary’s current political climate will not influence his client’s case.

“What illiterate politicians are bumbling on about is not a legal question,” he said, adding that the retrial will probably take less time than the first trial.

In opening the retrial, presiding judge Jenő Kóbor read out the indictment, as well as the first-level court conviction and the decision of the appeals court. The appeals court threw out the first conviction on the grounds that the first-level court had cherry-picked evidence without explanation, and had not adequately considered all evidence that could have been used in Ahmed H’s defense.

Ahmed H was arrested in Hungary in September 2015 following clashes between asylum-seekers and police at the Röszke border crossing from Serbia. According to his initial indictment, the defendant spoke into a megaphone, shook a police cordon, threw objects at a line of police and stepped illegally into Hungarian territory during the “Battle of Röszke” on September 16, 2015. His first trial was decried by many international observers as a “show trial” and was protested in Budapest and elsewhere.

Ahmed H, as a legal resident of Cyprus, was legally permitted to enter Hungary at the time of the events in Röszke. He had been at the border escorting his family from Syria, which they had fled amid the escalation of war and terrorism there.

10 other migrants were charged with crimes related to the events at Röszke, but only Ahmed H was charged with terrorism. The defendants have become known collectively as The Röszke 11.

Justin Spike :