A Budapest court will soon give its verdict on a civil lawsuit filed against the government by a Syrian migrant who spent 40 months in prison for inciting a riot in 2015 on the Hungary-Serbia border.
Ahmed H. sued the prime minister’s cabinet office, saying a 2017 government survey on public attitudes to migration referred to him directly and gave the impression he had already been convicted when the court had not yet produced a final ruling. Arguing that the government had violated his personal rights in so doing, the Syrian is seeking damages of 8 million forints (EUR 25,000) and a public apology. The sum is based on one forint for each of the 8 million households the government questionnaire was sent to.
In a hearing on Thursday, Ahmed H. said that he had been “trapped in a foreign country while the media was full of false reports about me which the survey seemed to confirm”. In the absence of a court ruling, he was depicted publicly as a terrorist, he argued, adding that this “sent a clear message to the court”, which had yet to hand down its verdict.
The Syrian migrant was sentenced to five years in prison in a repeat procedure in 2017 for illegally crossing the border as part of a rioting crowd and throwing objects at police, which the court regarded as complicity in terrorist activities. According to a recent ruling, he will be released from prison on Jan. 19 after serving two-thirds of his term, taking into account time spent in pre-trial detention. Under the same ruling, he will be expelled from the country upon his release.