Hungary retrial for Syrian jailed on ‘terror’ charges

Szeged: A Hungarian appeals court on Thursday ordered a retrial for a Syrian man jailed for 10 years for his role in a border riot two years ago, a verdict that was slammed by the EU and rights groups.
Ahmed Hamed, a 40-year-old builder resident in EU member Cyprus for around a decade, was jailed last November for committing an “illegal border crossing and an act of terror while participating in a mass disturbance”.
That verdict “is annulled”, said an appeals court judge in Szeged, southern Hungary, adding that Hamed must be kept in custody pending the retrial.
The evidence “may not have been adequately examined” by the first court, the judge said.
Thursday’s ruling is “a step in the right direction towards Ahmed’s acquittal for his actions, which cannot credibly constitute acts of terror,” said Todor Gardos of Amnesty International, who called the original verdict “draconian”.
Prosecutors accused Hamed of using a megaphone to orchestrate violence against Hungarian police at the border with Serbia on September 16, 2015, a day after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s hardline anti-immigration government sealed the frontier with razor wire.
Several dozen migrants tried to cross into Hungary at the Roszke checkpoint while riot police used tear gas and water cannon to force them back onto Serbian territory.
During clashes that saw around 15 police and 100-150 migrants injured, including children, prosecutors said Hamed also threw three “objects” at police.
Hamed’s defence lawyer said on Thursday that while Hamed admitted throwing stones there was no evidence he had injured anyone or engaged in an act of terror, and sought the quashing of the verdict.
“I had no thought to commit any type of criminal act, never mind an act of terror,” Hamed said on Thursday.
Flanked by masked and armed police he said he had used his knowledge of English to mediate by megaphone between the migrants and the riot police. — AFP