Report: Poor preventive steps led to escalation of Röszke conflict
Image by LaMography / Moni Lazar
The Hungarian police did not do enough to prevent the Röszke clashes, in which 14 police officers and an estimated 100-150 refugees were injured Wednesday, a former high-ranking police commander was reported as saying in investigative journalism portal atlatszo.hu yesterday.
(Photo: LaMography/Moni Lazar)
Clashes took place between refugees hoping to enter this country and Hungarian police guarding the border entry. According to the commander, Hungarian riot police were focusing their defense on a narrow gap, the gate in the border fence, which was an ideal position.
The situation was aggravated by the fact that the refugees were in Serbian territory, where no Hungarian police or armed forces are allowed to enter, the former commander noted, adding that in such situations, it is standard practice to send a liaison officer to the foreign territory in advance to establish communication with both the local armed forces and the refugees.
According to the former commander, the Hungarian government could have sent someone to the Hungarian embassy in Belgrade earlier to ensure that the Hungarian and the Serbian police were acting in a coordinated effort. The escalation of the conflict between the riot police and the refugees seeking to enter the EU through the most popular route, was due to a lack of communication between the Hungarian police and the refugees, and the Hungarian police and their Serbian counterparts, the unnamed source told atlatszo.hu.
The Hungarian police officers were, as government officials have repeatedly said, “heroic” and “defended the border with their own bodies”, but according to the source, this was “pointless and unnecessary”.
The Hungarian police purchased special vehicles and mobile defense barriers following the riots in Budapest in 2006, for precisely such situations, the source added. Moreover, the intervention of TEK (the Hungarian anti-terror unit, which operates independently of the police and which is not trained to handle crowds in similar situations) also aggravated the situation, the source said. Atlatszo.hu contacted captain Károly Pap to discuss the case, but he declined to comment.
Pap led the committee established by the Orbán government to investigate the police’s actions during the 2006 riots in Budapest, under the socialist government, which led to the arrest of several police commanders at the time.
Atlatszo.hu also contacted the Prosecutor General’s offices for Csongrád and Bács-Kiskun counties after Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó said that one of the individuals detained during the clashes was identified as a terrorist, but no one was aware of any terrorist activity. The Office of the Hungarian Police also refused to comment on the case.
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