Italian activist jailed in Hungary to run for EU elections in June

Italian teacher back in Hungarian court accused of assault on far-right activists
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MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian anti-fascist activist held in Hungary for allegedly assaulting far-right militants will be a candidate for a left-wing party at European elections in June, possibly putting an end to her detention.

Ilaria Salis, a 39-year-old teacher, has been in a Hungarian jail for more than a year in a case that drew outrage in Italy in February when she was led into a court hearing with her feet and hands bound and a chain round her waist.

The Italian Green and Left Alliance announced late on Thursday she would be among their candidates at the European ballot, in agreement with her father Roberto, who is campaigning for her release.

"We want to defend the rights and the dignity of a European citizen in the face of the inertia of the Italian authorities," said Angelo Bonelli, one of the leaders of the Green and Left grouping, which is running at around 4% in opinion polls.

The case is particularly politically sensitive due to the long-standing ties between Italy's right-wing prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, and her Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban.

Hungarian prosecutors are seeking an 11-year jail term for Salis for her alleged role in an assault on two far-right militants by a group of anti-fascist activists in Budapest in February 2023. She pleaded not guilty in January.

Meloni has brought up Salis's case with Orban, calling for the activist to be granted a quick trial.

Members of the European Parliament enjoy strong legal immunity from prosecution, even if the allegations relate to offences committed before their election.

"Under the law, if Salis is elected she will have to be released so she can take her place in parliament," said Marco Borraccetti, a European Law professor at Bologna University.

A Hungarian court could then lodge a request for her immunity to be lifted, which the Strasbourg-based assembly could either accept or reject, he added.

(Reporting by Alessia Pé and Gavin Jones, editing by Angus MacSwan)