HomeWorldItaly lodges protest after citizen led in chains into Budapest court

Italy lodges protest after citizen led in chains into Budapest court


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Italy’s government has said that authorities in Hungary went “too far” in putting in chains an Italian woman who is awaiting trial for allegedly attacking neo-Nazis.

Italian ministers summoned Budapest’s ambassador in protest on Tuesday.

Images of Ilaria Salis, 39, with her hands cuffed and chained and her feet locked together as she sat in court were on the front pages of Italy’s major newspapers, amid rising outrage over her case.

The teacher from Monza, near Milan, was arrested in Budapest in February last year following a counter-demonstration against a neo-Nazi rally.

She was charged with three counts of attempted assault and accused of being part of an extreme leftwing organisation.

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

“This time it seems to me it has gone too far,” Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani told RAI radio.

The case is potentially embarrassing for Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, as she and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini have close ties with Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s nationalist PM.

Tajani said he did not want to interfere in Hungary’s justice system, but that “treating a prisoner in that way really seems inappropriate, not in tune with our legal culture”.

Ilaria Salis denies attempted assault and being part of an extreme leftwing organisation.

The Hungarian chargé d’affaires had been summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday to explain, Tajani said, adding: “We are in the European Union and there are citizens’ rights that must be respected.”

Tajani said he had previously spoken to Hungary’s foreign minister about the case.

The Italian ambassador to Hungary on Tuesday paid a visit to the justice ministry in Budapest after meeting with Salis’s father.

Tajani proposed that Salis be put under house arrest rather than held in jail.

“It was shocking, she was dragged like a dog,” one of Salis’s lawyers, Eugenio Losco, told the Ansa news agency. “It was crazy, and the Italian state must end this situation now.”

Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, has long been close to Orbán. But they have diverged over Ukraine, with Rome sending money and weapons to Kyiv to help it defend itself against Russia’s invasion, while Orbán vetoed a multibillion-euro EU aid package for Kyiv in December.

Salis is due to stand trial on 24 May.

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