A Budapest man who earlier this year knifed a passenger on a bus for wearing a ‘Free SZFE’ face mask expressing support for the students of Budapest’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) was sentenced to six years in prison in an expedited procedure on Friday.
Budapest’s 20th, 21st and 23rd district court also banned the man from participating in public affairs for a period of seven years, a spokeswoman of the Budapest chief prosecutor’s office said.
According to the non-binding verdict, the victim was travelling on a bus on Feb. 25 wearing a face mask expressing support for the students and staff members protesting against recent changes introduced at SZFE when she was confronted by the defendant. The defendant first got into a verbal altercation with the victim over the mask and then stabbed her in the face with an 8cm knife. He then got off at the next stop and fled the scene.
‘Free SZFE’ is the slogan of the opposers of the government’s forced and controversial restructuring of the University of Theater and Film Arts (or SZFE after its Hungarian acronym). You can read more about it here
In his court testimony, the defendant partially confessed to the crime and apologised to the victim, who accepted the apology.
The court found the defendant guilty of the charge of violence against the member of a community, arguing that he had been motivated by his sentiments against a group represented on the victim’s mask.
Both the prosecution and the defence have appealed the sentence.
featured image illustration from SZFE Student Union’s Facebook page