A camerawoman filmed kicking and tripping migrants as they crossed the Hungary-Serbia border in 2015 was sentenced Thursday to three years probation after a court dismissed her claims of self-defense.
Having claimed she received death threats after footage of her actions went viral, Petra László didn’t appear in person at Szeged District Court. Instead, she appeared via video link from an undisclosed location, arguing that she had simply been defending herself.
Footage of the incident on Sept. 8, 2015, shows László working as a camerawoman for right-wing TV station N1TV. Video captured by German reporter Stephan Richter and posted on Twitter shows László kicking out at two migrants, including one young girl, as well as tripping up a Syrian refugee, Osama Abdul Mohsen, as he ran past her carrying a child.
Judge Illes Nanasi said László’s behavior “ran counter to societal norms.”
In her defense, László said: “It was all over within two seconds. Everybody was shouting. It was very frightening.” Her lawyer Ferenc Sipos told Associated Press that while his client did not attend court because of the death threats received, she plans to appeal the sentence.
“It is not a crime if somebody acts to defend herself … She was in danger, and she tried to avert this danger with her actions,” Sipos said. Three days after the incident, László issued this apology:
“I am very sorry for the incident, and as a mother I am especially sorry for the fact that fate pushed a child in my way. I did not see that at that moment. I started to panic and as I rewatch the film, it seems as it was not even me.”
Following the incident László said she was considering moving to Russia as a result of the abuse directed at her. She also threatened to sue both Facebook, for failing to remove groups threatening her on the platform, and Osama Abdul Mohsen, for allegedly changing his testimony.