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A prisoner in chains angers Italians in Hungary

Published on 2024-01-31 21.33

A mural by Ilaria Salis near the Hungarian Embassy in Rome.

Images of an Italian woman being led into a Hungarian court in handcuffs have sparked outrage in Italy.

The case also risks sparking a diplomatic crisis between former good friends Italy and Hungary.

In the Italian media, photos showing how Ilaria Salles was taken to court in Budapest on Monday, bound hands and feet and with a chain in her hands, attracted a lot of attention, ANSA writes.

Sallis was arrested in Budapest in January 2023 – accused of beating two participants in a neo-Nazi demonstration. The 39-year-old primary school teacher from Monza himself denies the accusations, which could lead to an 11-year prison sentence.

The danger of a diplomatic crisis

According to Carmen Georgiou, one of Sally's former cellmates, conditions are also very difficult in the high-security prison in Budapest where the Italian is being held.

– Mice, pigeons, bugs – and abused prisoners. “Everything that was there,” she told La Repubblica.

Not only did Ilaria Salles' photos make the front pages of Italian newspapers, but they also sparked an emerging diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who in recent days has been under intense pressure to act from the country's opposition, is also said to have discussed Sally's situation with her Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban during a phone call on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Italian UD criticism

Even within the Italian government, the Hungarian authorities' handling of the case has drawn criticism, and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Tuesday that Hungary had “gone too far.”

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“The transaction does not comply with our legal principles,” Tajani said in a radio interview with Italian public service company Rai.

Also on Tuesday, the Hungarian ambassador was summoned to attend a meeting at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. The issue also risks leading, at the very least, to a tense atmosphere between Giorgia Meloni and Viktor Orbán during an additional EU summit on Ukraine in Brussels on Thursday.