Case Studies

Hungary: Islamophobia in pre-trial detention


In pre-trial detention in Hungary, a victim claimed to have been ill-treated by guards in August 2013.

The victim claims that one of the guards threw his Koran to the ground when his cell was searched, which the victim believes was a planned provocation. The victim may have bumped into a guard, but only in the process of trying to prevent to the Koran falling on to the ground. In response, four guards began to beat and kick him.

The guards claim that they were simply responding to an act of aggression with an appropriate and lawful response.

There were eye witnesses who saw the incident through a hole in the wall. A number of prisoners also heard the victim’s screams from the pain and his cries for help. The victim lost consciousness, his face was bleeding, and he was taken to get medical attention by other detainees.

The victim made a formal complaint, and a procedure was launched against the guards. The prosecution heard the victim, the witnesses, and the suspected guards, but ultimately discontinued the investigation. The victim’s lawyer appealed against the complaint, but the decision was confirmed, and the investigation was closed in early 2016.

The victim could have taken further steps, but chose not to continue the case due to fear. He thought that as someone who had already spent years in pre-trial detention, he should not launch a further prosecution against the guards. He struggled enough in pre-trial detention as it was, as both a foreign national and a Muslim, and he didn’t want to make things worse.

To add insult to injury, the victim was then himself investigated for violence against the guards. The victim’s lawyer asked the court to hear witnesses, but only one witness was called. The witness in question testified that he saw the victim being mistreated, but the judge incorrectly quoted the witness’ testimony. The court found the victim guilty and convicted him, sentencing to a suspended sentence.

The victim had the decision annulled on appeal. The first instance case against the victim continues.