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Camerawoman who kicked Syrian refugees in Hungary gets probation

Laszlo was found guilty and sentenced to three years probation [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2017

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A court in southern Hungary sentenced Petra Laszlo to three years probation after she was found guilty of vandalism for kicking a Syrian refugee carrying his son in 2015.
A Hungarian television camerawoman who made headlines in 2015 after tripping and kicking refugees fleeing police was found guilty on Thursday.

Petra Laszlo's actions breached public peace by triggering "indignation and outrage", a judge in Szeged, southern Hungary, said, rejecting her defence lawyer's argument that she was trying to protect herself.

Laszlo was found guilty and sentenced to three years probation. 

If she does not re-offend during that period the conviction will be dropped altogether.

Laszlo, took part in the hearing via a video link from a courtroom in Budapest, said she had received death threats after the incident.

Occasionally breaking into tears, she told the court that she had been subjected to a "hate campaign" since the incident.

Both the prosecutor, who sought the maximum penalty of a stiff fine, and Laszlo's defence lawyer who asked for acquittal, said they would appeal the first instance verdict.

In television footage, which sparked global outrage, Laszlo can be seen tripping up a man sprinting with a child in his arms, and kicking another running child near the town of Roszke, close to the border with Serbia.

It later emerged that the camerawoman, who was fired over her actions, had been working for N1TV, an internet-based television station close to Hungary's far-right Jobbik party.

The incident on 8 September, 2015 occurred as hundreds of refugees broke through a police line at a collection point close to the Serbian border.

In 2015 thousands of refugees crossed into Hungary each day as the country, a southern gateway into the EU's passport-free Schengen zone, became a temporary hotspot of the refugee crisis.

A week after the incident, Hungarian soldiers completed the closure of the 175-kilometre-long [110-mile-long] border with a fence reinforced with razor wire. 

More than 400,000 refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 bound for western Europe, but the number plummeted after the border was sealed off.

The Syrian man tripped up by Laszlo was later given a job by a Spanish football coaching school, while his son ran with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo onto the pitch in Madrid before a match.

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