A Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed tripping up and kicking fleeing migrants in 2015 has now been acquitted by the country’s Supreme Court.
Petra Laszlo caused global outrage in September 2015 when she was captured on camera knocking over a man who was running with a child in his arms, before kicking another running child.
She was sentenced in January 2017 to three years probation but the Supreme Court acquitted her Tuesday and ruled that her act, „while morally incorrect and illicit, was a disruption, not vandalism.“
Laszlo had been posted to the region, near the Hungary-Serbia border, to document the wave of migrants who were trying to cross Europe into Austria and Germany.
The incident happened when around 400 migrants broke through a police line in a holding camp, outside the southern city of Szeged. The footage, which went viral after it was shared by RTL Television reporter Stephan Richter, has been retweeted over 2,300 times.
A few days later Laszlo, who was covering the story for the nationalist N1TV station, apologized in a letter to the Magyar Nemzet newspaper. At the time, she said the ensuing panic scared her into thinking that she would be attacked.
„As I re-watch the film, it seems as if it was not even me,“ her letter said.
She was fired from her job and sentenced to probation, after the city’s public prosecutor’s office found her guilty of a „breach of peace.“
At the time, the chief prosecutor said that although the woman did not inflict any physical injuries, her behavior was „capable of provoking indignation and outcry in the members of the public present at the scenes.“
On Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled that she should have instead been charged with the regulatory offense of „causing disturbance.“
The court said the „indignation and negative opinions“ that arose from the media coverage were not considered, given that they were not part of the criminal charge.
In an interview with CNN in 2015 Abdul Mohsen, the Syrian who was tripped up while holding his 7-year-old son Zaid, said the stampede of migrants was spurred by desperate conditions at the camp.
The indifference of the Hungarian authorities triggered the situation, causing the migrants to storm the police defenses and walk their way to the nearby village, around three to five kilometers away,“ he said.