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Hungary's 'slave law' protests: CEU student Adrien Beauduin's police assault charge

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Adrien Beauduin pictured during happier times.
Adrien Beauduin pictured during happier times. -
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Roman Koziel
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Belgian-Canadian student Adrien Beauduin said he's afraid after being charged with assaulting police during 'slave law' protests in Hungary last week.

"I'm completely shattered," Beauduin told Euronews on the phone from Brussels, explaining the events that lead to his arrest.

The 32-year-old, a PhD student at the George Soros-backed Central European University (CEU), said he was present at the "slave law" protests in support of trade unions.

Beauduin says he was demonstrating with thousands of others outside parliament on December 12 when he was arrested.

He was subsequently detained for two days, charged with assaulting police and is now awaiting trial.

READ Why are people protesting in Hungary? | Euronews explains

READ: 'Slave law' protests: Opposition parties and media have a fair voice in Hungary, says government

Beauduin said he was standing near police, watching as demonstrators began to burn a sleigh. That's when officers began to charge at the protesters, he said, and he was swept up in that moment.

"I was just next to the police, not doing anything... I was caught up in the [police] charge, and I was pushed away from the police and I started falling. I was pushed toward that [sleigh] fire, pushed backwards, left and right and I was behind the police line. I was just grabbed and arrested," he said.

Dr Kata Nehez-Posony, Beauduin's lawyer from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, said he and four others were charged with "group violence against police officers", which could earn them anywhere between two and eight years in prison.

"[The police] put me in jail and I didn't know what was going to happen to me," he said. "I'm afraid it would be the word of police officers against mine."

Beauduin said police wanted to 'fast-track' his trial within 72 hours from the time of his arrest but Nehez-Posony, appealed and delayed it until at least January.

Beauduin as a target?

Nehez-Posony said Beauduin is a good target because he is a "foreigner" and is a student at the CEU studying gender studies.

"He was at the protest, so all together, it makes him a good target for the propaganda media. I don't think there's [any other] special reasons for him to be the target. It's just because the propaganda works like this. Nothing else."

"Adrien is quite direct on the point he didn't do anything. If we can make it clear that the police or prosecutor doesn't have any strong evidence against him, then the charges should be dropped."

Since his arrest, Hungarian state media began to publish reports stating Beauduin was the leader of the demonstrations or an agent of Geroge Soros, the Hungarian billionaire who finances the CEU and an apparent enemy of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The university says it has been forced to move its American-accredited programmes from Budapest to Vienna from September 2019.

Hungary's police did not respond to Euronews' request to comment on this case.