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Father of anti-Nazi activist Ilaria Salis: 'My daughter wants a fair trial'

Demonstrators hold up a banner with writing (Italian) "Lets free Ilaria Salis", in front of the Pantheon monument, in Rome, ON Feb. 14, 2024.
Demonstrators hold up a banner with writing (Italian) "Lets free Ilaria Salis", in front of the Pantheon monument, in Rome, ON Feb. 14, 2024. Copyright / Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse
Copyright / Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse
By Euronews
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Ilaria Salis was detained in Hungary on charges of having assaulted neo-Nazi extremists. Now she is running in the European elections.

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Italian activist Ilaria Salis, currently imprisoned in Hungary on charges of participating in the attack of neo-Nazis, is standing as a candidate in the European elections for the Greens and Left Alliance.

Her father Roberto spoke to the Strasbourg Parliament on Wednesday, revealing "she was quite motivated, happy to have made this choice." 

"For my daughter, the elections represent a further opportunity to solve her drama."

He spoke to Ilaria a few days ago and detailed he had not gone to Strasbourg to campaign, but to defend his daughter's rights.

My daughter is trying to get a fair trial
Roberto Salis

The decision to run as an MEP was dictated by "reasons that concern coherence with Ilaria's political path," her father explained, responding to a question about a possible candidacy with the Democratic Party, which was previously rumoured.

The road to election, however, seems to be an uphill struggle. 

Ilaria will not be able to campaign and is only allowed one hour of interviews per month. 

"She is locked in a cell 23 hours a day with one hour of air time and 70 minutes of communication per week. Obviously, she has no chance to carry out her candidacy properly," he said. 

'Immunity not the ultimate goal'

If elected, Salis could be granted parliamentary immunity so she can attend the first plenary session of the new parliament on 16 July, a Eurochamber source told Euronews. 

Then, the Hungarian judiciary could ask for her immunity to be suspended, a request which would be put to a vote in the chamber.

Immunity, however, is not the ultimate goal of the candidacy, her father explained.

"My daughter is trying to get a fair trial," said Roberto Salis. 

"The candidacy would allow for immunity. Then, if the procedure for a fair trial is activated, my daughter obviously does not run away from the trial and wants to prove her innocence, as she has always said."

Passersby look at a mural painting depicting Italian antifascist activist Ilaria Salis in the act of breaking her chains near the Hungarian Embassy in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 31
Passersby look at a mural painting depicting Italian antifascist activist Ilaria Salis in the act of breaking her chains near the Hungarian Embassy in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 31Luigi Navarra/AP

Ilaria Salis currently faces up to 24 years in prison. However, not even a final conviction would deprive her of her virtual seat in Strasbourg, unless it also includes a ban from public office. 

Ioannis Lagos, one founder of the neo-Nazi party Alba Dorata remains an MEP, with every right to ask parliamentary questions despite serving a 13-year sentence in Greece for his involvement in organising several attacks.

Inadequate prison conditions

The Salis case gained international prominence in February after images broadcast by Tg3 showed her before judges in Budapest with handcuffs on her wrists and feet and held on a leash. 

She has routinely complained of inadequate conditions in her cell.

But Hungarian MEP Enikő Győri of the ruling Fidesz party strongly disputed these accusations, spelling out the details of Salis' prison accommodation.

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"The cell where she is held has four bunk beds, a sink and a flat-screen television. Every month, special attention is paid to preventing insect and rodent infestations and eliminating any that may be present. Three meals a day are provided in strict compliance with standards. She requested and obtained a vegetarian diet."

According to the MEP, who cites an investigation by the competent Hungarian authority, the prison community has not complained about the conditions in the prison where Salis remains imprisoned. The health of inmates is also constantly monitored.

On the same day as Roberto Salis' visit, the European Parliament passed a non-legislative resolution deploring "the persistent, systematic and deliberate violation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, for which the Hungarian government is responsible."

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