Hungary charges camerawoman accused of tripping fleeing migrants

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian prosecutors filed charges on Wednesday against a camerawoman accused of kicking and tripping migrants fleeing police near the southern border with Serbia last year.

Petra Laszlo was fired form her job at N1TV, a television station with nationalist sympathies, after video footage spread online appearing to show her kicking a girl and a young man.

Her prosecution for disorderly conduct comes as political tensions mount over Europe’s migration crisis in the region.

Hungary is holding a referendum on whether to accept EU migrant quotas on Oct. 2, the same say as the far-right Freedom Party is standing in presidential elections in neighboring Austria.

Prosecutors described how hundreds of migrants broke through a police cordon and out of a holding area and headed toward Szeged, a nearby city in September last year. Laszlo was directly behind the police officers and filmed migrants as they ran.

“While filming she kicked a young man in the shin with a swift kick of the sole of her right foot, and also kicked young girl around the knee with her right foot,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

There was no evidence of a racially motivated hate crime, they added.

Laszlo was not immediately reachable for comment. Last year she told the daily Magyar Nemzet that she felt remorse over what had happened.

“I am practically in shock from what I did, and what was done to me,” Laszlo said. “I am not heartless (or) racist... I am a woman, a mother of small children, who has since lost her job, and who made a bad decision in panic.”

Prosecutors said she had not kicked a man carrying a small child, one of the accusations she had faced during last year’s online furor.

“(Laszlo) kicked toward a man carrying a child in his hands, but the kick did not reach the man. The man carrying the child still fell, because... one of the policemen tried to catch and restrain him, and he lost his balance as he broke free.”

The man, a soccer coach named Osama Abdul Mohsen, went on to Spain where a sports school offered to find him work.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Andrew Heavens