Court sentences skinheads charged with arson in Hungary
03 April 1999
On February 23, the Buda Regional Court found nine persons, allegedly members of the skinhead movement, guilty of crimes related to an incident of arson. The court ruled that they had set fire to a farmhouse belonging to a Romani family with three children on March 15, 1995. They attacked the farmhouse at around 10:00 pm, throwing Molotov cocktails through the windows. Mr Albert Szabó, a well-known leader of Hungarian right-wing extremists, was reportedly present at one of the hearings.
The Buda Regional Court, headed by Judge Zsuzsanna Csefkó, found the youngsters guilty of disturbing the peace and causing damage. Principal defendant Gergely F. was sentenced to five months imprisonment. The sentence was sus-pended. Secondary defendant Zoltán Ambrus T., 25-years-old at the time the attack, was sentenced to seven months, and Nándor B., 21-years-old at the time of the attack, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, although his sentence was also suspended. The remaining six defen-dants received suspended sentences of between one and three years. The group will have to pay damages amounting to 62,500 HUF (approximately 250 euros) to the family. Judge Csefkó said that there was no evidence proving that the Romani family's life had been put in danger by the attack. The long time that had elapsed since the events and the good reputations of the families of the defendants were taken as mitigating circumstances by Judge Csefkó. Observers have noted that the excessive length of the trial was due primarily to the failure of the defendants to turn up for hearings.
Mr Imre Furmann, Director of the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), the organisation repre-senting the Romani victims, told the Roma Press Center that he intends to initiate a civil action demanding approximately three million HUF (approximately 12,000 euros) compensation.
Zoltán Ambrus T., the only defendant who will have to serve his sentence, had already been sentenced to a four month suspended sentence for disturbing the peace in 1993. He denies that he is a member of a skinhead group. He reportedly stated that he wears a uniform and boots only because he works as a security guard and in his job he needs to look intimidating. "The whole thing was childish mischief, and it will never happen again. We have no problems with the Gypsies," he reportedly told Roma Press Center.
(Roma Press Center)