A group of Hungarian nationalist militants—members of a group which physically attacked the homes of Communist politicians—were given jail terms of between 10 months and 13 years this week after a trial which lasted five years.
The charges included allegations that they threw Molotov cocktails at the homes of members of the Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Párt, MSZP), the direct successor to the Communist dictators who ran the country before the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
According to a report in Hungary today, the leader of the “Arrows of the Hungarians” group, Gyorgy Budahazy, 47, and 16 others carried out the attacks between 2007 and 2009.
The group was accused of firing missiles and bombs at the homes and offices of politicians to influence lawmakers’ votes. Targets included cabinet members in the MSZP-led government at the time.
No one was injured, however, except for a TV presenter and former Socialist politician who was severely beaten with iron bars at his home after he called the group “hooligans and vandals” on television.
The state also claimed that a homosexual nightclub in Budapest had been attacked by the group.
The prosecutor had requested a 20-year jail term for Budahazy, saying Hungary had never seen such a sustained series of organized terror acts in recent decades.
The prosecution based its case mainly on witness statements, telephone tapping, and material evidence. The accused had denied the charges and largely refused to testify.
Budahazy had argued that he was the victim of a “show-trial” and shouted “Freedom!” when he entered the courtroom packed with his supporters on Tuesday.
Chaos erupted momentarily after prosecutors announced they would appeal the sentence.
Some of Budahazy’s supporters yelled in anger and whistled, while others flung open the courtroom door. Police eventually managed to restore calm and proceedings continued.
Budahazy first gained nationwide attention in 2002 when he organized a blockade of a bridge in Budapest to demonstrate against the Socialists’ parliamentary election win that year.
In 2006, he was one of the leaders of street protests that escalated into violent riots not seen in Hungary since its transition from communism in 1990.
Hungary’s Jobbik party expressed support for Budahazy during the trial, and said that the verdict was “unjust” and “the biggest shame of the last 26 years.”