Graffiti next to enlarged photos of Ilaria Salis in Rome's working-class Quarticciolo neighbourhood.

News Vote 24

Italian activist and new MEP Ilaria Salis ‘to be released from house arrest’ in Hungary


After being elected an MEP for Italy’s Green and Left Alliance, Italian left-wing activist Ilaria Salis will be released from detention in Hungary, authorities in the country have confirmed.

She had faced up to 11 years in jail for allegedly assaulting right-wing activists in Budapest in 2023.

As an MEP, Salis, a 39-year-old schoolteacher from Milan, will enjoy parliamentary immunity once her election is officially proclaimed.

Hungarian authorities said they would release her once that takes place, which her father Roberto Salis suggested could be in July when the new European Parliament sits.

Her supporters said she should not have to wait that long. Angelo Bonelli, an Italian MP and spokesman for Italy’s Green Europe party, said Salis “must be released immediately because we certainly won’t wait for the proclamation of the elected representatives”.

Members of Italy’s right-wing parties were somewhat more sardonic about her election win.

Fratelli d’Italia councillor Laura Da Prato ironically asked for a minute of silence at a meeting of Lucca’s city council on June 11 following Salis’ election.

“Evidently it is not possible to hold a minute of silence for the election of anybody,” replied the council chairman Enrico Torino.

Salis, from the city of Monza near Milan, received 165,000 votes in the EP elections, with her party winning 6.8 per cent of votes in Italy making up six of  the country’s 76 MEPs.

In February 2023, she had allegedly assaulted right-wing activists in Budapest commemorating a failed breakout attempt in 1945 by German and Hungarian troops. 

Police arrested her on a charge of grievous bodily harm, along with two activists from Germany.

Her treatment afterwards became problematic for Italy’s relationship with Hungary, with Deputy Italian Prime Minister and foreign minister Antonio Tajani raising concerns over her prison conditions in a February 28 meeting with Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó. 

Her case also garnered attention in the European Parliament.

In December last year, seven Italian S&D MEPs put a question to the European Commission about Salis’ treatment. In February, they raised her case again during a plenary session.

Salis’ trial only began in May 2023. Once it did, a regional appeals court in Budapest announced it would permit her to move from prison to house arrest as she awaited the outcome of the trial.

She was required to wear an ankle monitor and her father was required to pay a house-arrest bail of €40,000.

“I don’t know what she will be able to do in Brussels, unless it involves beating someone up,” journalist and Fratelli d’Italia councillor Vittorio Feltri said on Rete 4‘s Prima di Domani talk show on June 12.