Camerawoman sorry for kicking migrants

BUDAPEST • A Hungarian camera-woman who caused global outrage after being caught on film tripping and kicking refugees as they fled police broke her silence yesterday, saying she had "panicked".

"As I watch the footage now, it's like I'm not watching myself. I honestly regret what I have done and take responsibility for it," wrote Ms Petra Laszlo in a letter to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet published on its website.

"I panicked. I'm not a heartless, child-kicking racist camera-person," she said.

In the footage, which spread rapidly across the Internet earlier this week, Ms Laszlo, 40, can be seen tripping a man sprinting with a child in his arms, and kicking a running child near the town of Roszke, close to the border with Serbia.

She was fired from her job at N1TV, an Internet-based television station with links to Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, and also faces criminal charges for breaching the peace.

This video grab shows Hungarian TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo kicking a child as she runs with other migrants from a police line during disturbances at Roszke, southern Hungary. Ms Laszlo was fired after the footage went viral.
This video grab shows Hungarian TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo kicking a child as she runs with other migrants from a police line during disturbances at Roszke, southern Hungary. Ms Laszlo was fired after the footage went viral. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

She was detained for questioning by police on Thursday and later released.

"I was afraid as they were rushing towards me and then something snapped in my head.

"As I had my camera in my hand, I couldn't see who was coming at me. My only thought was that I was going to be attacked, and that I had to defend myself," she wrote.

"As a mother, I'm particularly sorry that fate had it that a child was running at me, and I wasn't able to sense that."

A Wall of Shame page on Facebook featuring photos, videos and commentaries linked to the incident had gathered more than 35,000 likes yesterday. "You are a disgrace to your profession," said one user.

Ms Laszlo said she did not "deserve either the political witch-hunt that is going on against me or the smears or the many death threats".

"I'm just a woman, now unemployed mother of small children, who made a bad decision in a panic situation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Camerawoman sorry for kicking migrants'. Print Edition | Subscribe