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Hungary defends chaining of Italian assault suspect

By AFP

February 1, 2024 11:24 AM


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Hungary on Wednesday defended its treatment of an Italian woman awaiting trial on assault charges after she was pictured in court with her wrists and ankles chained.

That brought a rebuke from Italy's government, which accused Budapest authorities of going "too far".

Images of Ilaria Salis, 39, with her hands and feet bound in chains as she sat in court on Monday made front page headlines in Italy the next day.

The teacher from Monza, near Milan, was arrested in Budapest in February last year and charged with attacking neo-Nazis.

She was charged with three counts of attempted assault and accused of being part of an extreme left-wing organisation following a counter-demonstration against a neo-Nazi rally.

"Sure, she was restrained in the courtroom, and yes, she had already spent 11 months detained," Hungary's government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

"But 'inhumane'? Not really, no. Taken seriously due to the severity of the crime she's charged with? More likely," he added.

Salis denies the charges, which could see her jailed for up to 11 years.

Her father, Roberto Salis has said his daughter was treated "like an animal" while Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told RAI radio that the teacher's treatment was "inappropriate".

Roberto Salis said his daughter was living in "inhuman" conditions at a maximum security prison in a cell filled with vermin, with shortages of food and hygiene products.

"The conditions of the suspect's detention comply with all EU standards, both in terms of health and care provided," argued Kovacs.

The issue has reached the highest government ranks with Italy Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni bringing up the matter in a telephone conversation with her Hungarian counterpart, Victor Orban, Italian news agency AGI reported on Tuesday.

The Hungarian charge d'affaires was summoned to the Italian foreign ministry to give an explanation.

"We are in the European Union and there are citizens' rights that must be respected," Tajani said on Tuesday.

The Hungarian prison service called the allegations made in both countries' media "lies" after organising a press visit to the cell Salis shares with seven other detainees.

As it is a prison it does not "offer the services of a multi-star hotel", said Mihaly Kovacs, the prison service head, quoted by the MTI news agency.


AFP


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