EU parliament discusses prison conditions of Italian Antifa attacker held in Hungary

Socialist MEP Katarina Barley. (
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

On Monday, the agenda of the European Parliament’s session contained an item even Italy did not find relevant: the detention conditions of Italian woman Ilaria Salis, who is being held in a Budapest prison for her alleged role in a series of brutal attacks in Budapest last February involving the Antifa Hammer Gang group.

The issue had already been discussed in detail between the two relevant officials, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in the middle of last week, and the Italian Prime Minister was fully briefed on Salis’ prison conditions.

The Hungarian government recently released photographs of the violent Antifa group’s victims in Budapest, with the group targeting who they believed were far-right activists but who actually turned out to be innocent civilians uninvolved in right-wing politics. A manhunt continues for other suspects in the case, with many of them identified as having German citizenship. One German national has already been convicted to three years in Hungarian prison for his role in the attacks.

The European Parliament session was headed by Katarina Barley, German Socialist MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament and also a long-time critic of Hungary.

One MEP from each political group in the European Parliament was given the floor to speak briefly, while no Hungarian MEPs were allotted time to speak, according to Hungarian newspaper Mandiner.

Enikő Győri, MEP for Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, asked to speak in Italian at the beginning of the debate on an item on the agenda, indicating that Hungary should be heard on an issue concerning Hungary. President Barley simply brushed Győri’s request aside, saying that the president of the European Parliament had already responded in writing to Győri’s request.

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The European Commission’s position was represented by Irish Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, but she said nothing beyond repeating the relevant legislation. The EPP speaker pointed out that Salis’ case is not an isolated one, but a systemic problem in Hungary.

Speaking on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, Italian government spokesman Pietro Fiocchi modestly said that “this debate should never have happened,” and it is in fact just a tool in the hands of the Italian left, and it is only about the fact that Elly Schlein, the president of the Italian left-wing Democratic Party, wants to attack Meloni.

He pointed out that Meloni had already spoken to Orbán to resolve the problem, the matter was closed, and “there was nothing to see here.”

The only speaker from the Identity and Democracy Group, Jean-Lin Lacapelle of Marine Le Pen’s party, said Salis was “motivated by violent far-left ideology.”

He also indicated that “once again a plenary, once again an anti-Hungarian debate”, and that no one had previously thought of raising the issue of prison conditions in Hungary, only to be used as a stick in this case.

“We will always stand on the side of sovereign states!” Lacapelle said.

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