Fourth suspect denies racist motive in Roma murder trial

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 30th of March 2011   Source: MTI

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Istvan Csontos, the fourth suspect allegedly involved in the multiple Roma murders committed in 2008 and 2009 denied charges of a racist motivation during the trial that continued in the Pest County Court on Wednesday.


Csontos and three other suspects are charged with five counts of murder committed in nine brutal, armed attacks on Roma homes mostly on the outskirts of small, central and eastern Hungarian villages. Six people died in the attacks, including a five-year-old child, and five others suffered life-threatening injuries including another child.


The three chief suspects in the case -- Arpad Kiss, Istvan Kiss, Zsolt Peto -- and Csontos, were arrested in August, 2009 at a local bar in Debrecen, eastern Hungary.


The files submitted to the trial court as a description of the case said that the three chief suspects, the two Kiss brothers and Peto, were dissatisfied with the judicial system's handling of "Gypsy crime", and decided to take matters into their own hands in late 2007 and early 2008.


The trial, which started on March 24, continued on Wednesday by hearing the fourth suspect, Csontos, as the chief suspects declined to give their testimonies.


Csontos, who is accused of acting as an accomplice, driving the three chief suspects to the scenes in the last two murders, today admitted to aiding and abetting the others in the two murders in Tiszalok and Kisleta in north-eastern Hungary in April and in August.


He insisted that the other three suspects had "dragged him" into the attacks, had told him about the six previous murders and threatened him against quitting the group and reporting on them.


Csontos, who was released from the armed services after five years in February 2009 for bad conduct, denied having radical views, stressing that he mainly had problems with crime in general.


"I am not a fascist, a Nazi or a racist. I don't care if people are born with any skin colour," said Csontos.


Asked why he had called the other three suspects racist, Csontos said one or two of them had worn T-shirts with a swastika or Adolf Hitler printed on them.


The third chief suspect, Zsolt Peto, denied this accusation, admitting however that he used to be member of the Fraternal Association of the Eastern Front (FAEF), which is an extreme right group set up in 1995.


During the hearing Csontos asked for the postponement of the trial, which will continue on Friday.


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