He denied that he did it deliberately and told the policeman’s family in court that he was “very sorry. I was in a panic, I didn’t mean to do it. Forgive me”.
The Austrian man, Thomas B, was stopped by a traffic cop in October 2012. According to the Hungarian prosecutor he had provoked the official by overtaking him in his Hummer and grazing the police car.
The officer called two colleagues on motorcycles as reinforcement but Thomas B refused to stop. According to the prosecutor he then deliberately ran over policeman Imre K, who died on the way to hospital, leaving behind three children.
Thomas B had come into conflict with police around 15 times between 1993 and 2010. He claimed to have panicked and accelerated after a second policeman had sprayed pepper spray in his face through his car window – something that was disputed in court.
Police did however shoot at him during the chase, and he was hit by several bullets.
Erich Pialek, Consul at the Austrian Embassy in Budapest, said that Thomas B has asked to spend the rest of his sentence in an Austrian prison, although this is usually only possible once two thirds of a sentence has been served.
Hungarian prisons are said to be operated under stricter conditions, with less sport and yard time, fewer visitation rights and no opportunities to work outside the prison.
Thomas B has appealed the sentence.