Four members of a group who had attacked people on the streets of the Hungarian capital in the previous days, apparently without any prior provocation, were arrested on Saturday, the Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK) informed. The attackers appear to have been far-left extremists, mostly foreigners, who attacked pedestrians because they were perceived as far-right.
The Budapest Police Headquarters held a press conference on the case on Monday morning. Béla Nyerges, Head of the Investigation Department of the Budapest Police Headquarters reported that a total of four attacks had taken place in the Hungarian capital on Thursday and Friday. The first of them took place on Fővám Square last Thursday, where three, reportedly Polish tourists, were attacked by 7-8 people with various means. After the incident, the perpetrators ran away, leaving two of the three victims with serious injuries.
At that time the motif for the attack was unknown. The next day, Friday, another incident occurred, this time in Gazdagrét, on the Buda side of the capital. This was reported in the Hungarian press during the weekend, and it was suggested that the attackers may have been so called “anti-fascists”. A video of the attack was also published, showing eight people attacking the victim from behind with a viper, then knocking him down and spraying him with pepper spray.
News reports at the time said that the attackers mistook the man walking in the street for a far-right commemorator. In Hungary, 11 February is the “Day of Honor”, commemorating the day when German and Hungarian troops attempted to breakout from Buda on the evening of 11 February 1945. In the Battle of Budapest, German-Hungarian troops surrounded in the Buda Castle district made a concerted attack in a westerly direction to reach the contiguous German battle line. This is one of the biggest annual events of the far right in Hungary, and many people from abroad also usually attend.
Far-right organizers wanted to hold gatherings commemorating the 1945 event, but the police refused to allow these. Still, many supporters showed up in the Hungarian capital, and at the same time, far-left protesters also emerged. On Saturday, many leftist demonstrators gathered in the Buda Castle district to protest against the Day of Honor, holding Antifa-flags among other things.
It then became clear to the police that the two attacks were part of a series, and a 24-man investigative team was immediately set up to hunt for the perpetrators.
In the meantime, however, a third attack occurred on Friday night in Bank Street in the 5th district. Here, a Hungarian couple returning home from a concert were attacked by five people with pepper spray. The pair was severely assaulted, with the man sustaining serious injuries.
Shortly afterwards, at half past midnight, a fourth attack took place in the 1st district, where the victim was a German couple. They were also on their way home from a concert when six people attacked and assaulted them.
At the police press conference, it was said that the police had carefully examined the victims’ entire itinerary to get some idea of why they had been targeted by the perpetrators in a capital of 2 million citizens. Another interesting fact is that the attackers did not want to take anything from the victims, nor did they demand anything, they simply beat them with iron pipes and hammers.
As it turns out, the only thing that links the victims is their clothing.
They were all wearing either camouflage patterned clothes, and black jackets or so-called bomber jackets. These would suggest that they were right-wing and had arrived in the city the commemorate the day of the outbreak in 1945. However, there are no facts on this assumption at this stage, only the garments suggest what might have been the case. There was no communication from the attackers either, they attacked without any sound, they did not say they were doing it for the clothes and for their presumption about the victims political approach.
It was revealed, however, that prior to the attack in Gazdagrét, the victim was approached by one of the attackers, a stranger woman, who asked him if he had arrived to commemorate the Day of Honor. The man replied that he did not, he was just on his way to work, but was attacked anyway.
The police also reported that the perpetrators followed each of the victims around the city for a long period of time.
One or two offenders typically followed their intended victims closely, with the others lagging a little behind. The investigation also revealed that there could be as many as 15 perpetrators, who attacked in various configurations. In one incident, for example, 11 people followed the victim, but only eight attacked.
During the manhunt, the police wanted to catch the perpetrators as soon as possible because they suspected that further attacks would follow. They finally caught some of the perpetrators in the 1st and 6th districts in the early afternoon of Saturday, three in total, including a German man, a German woman, and an Italian woman. They were found in possession of offensive equipment. On Saturday night, a Hungarian woman was also arrested at her residence, suspected of being actively involved in the attacks, as were the three foreigners.
One of the shocking details of the attacks was the high proportion of women among the perpetrators, with half of the attackers in one attack being women. They were not only watching but also properly beating and using the assault weapons.
The four persons arrested all deny the crimes, and the foreigners also refused to cooperate, refusing to answer when they arrived in Budapest or where they were staying. The Hungarian woman has so far not professed extremist ideas or posted any content on the Internet, but she told police that she is left-wing.
It was also mentioned at the press conference, that on Saturday, another incident took place at Széll Kálmán Square in Buda. There, far-right supporters attacked their political opponents, i.e. far-leftists, but the police has already arrested the perpetrators. It is not yet known if this incident was a revenge for the previous attacks.
According to several news reports, one of the victims is László Dudog, a Hungarian rock musician known in national circles. There are also articles about how some of the perpetrators were Greek, alongside Germans.