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Syrian-Cypriot migrant border rioter sentenced to 10 years in jail

December 3rd, 2016

A conservative columnist thinks that the court was right to sentence a Syrian migrant with residence in Cyprus for inciting a riot, using force against the police and crossing the border illegally. But she finds it deeply problematic that such behaviour is regarded as ‘terrorist activity’ under Hungarian law.

In a first instance verdict on Wednesday, the Szeged District Court found Ahmed H. guilty of involvement in terrorist activity and handed down a 10 year jail sentence, the mandatory minimum for terrorism related crimes. Ahmed Hamed participated in the 2015 September clashes at the Hungarian border (see BudaPost September 15, 2015). He was charged with mobilizing the rioters through a megaphone, hurling 3 unidentified objects at policemen (injuring none), and issuing a 2 hour ultimatum to the police to open the border crossing. If they failed to comply, he warned that the hundreds of migrants demonstrating on the Serbian side of the border would hurl themselves against the metal gates. This did indeed happen but they were repelled by anti-terrorist police (TEK). Ahmed Hamed admitted some of the actions he was accused of but offered varied explanations. He also consistently denied that his acts amounted to terrorism. He also explained to the court that although he could have entered Hungary legally as he had permanent residence in Cyprus, he wanted to help his ailing parents who were fleeing from Syria. When he was taken into custody, he was found to be carrying the passports of eight people. The verdict is under appeal both by the prosecutor and the defence counsel.

In Heti Válasz, Anita Élő thinks that Ahmed Hamed’s involvement in illegal action is beyond doubt. She also agrees that using threats and force against the police and crossing the border by inciting a mob riot are serious crimes, but she nonetheless finds it ‘tragi-comical’ that Ahmed Hamed was found guilty of terrorism. The conservative pundit calls for Hungarian anti-terrorism legislation to be revised so that terrorist action is better distinguished from other forms of criminal activity. Unless the law is revised, any case of violent pressure on police officers may be deemed an act of terrorism, Élő fears.

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