Hungary: A country where there are no consequences? Perhaps less and less so

Hungarians like to say that Hungary is a country where a person can do anything he wants without consequence. Indeed, there are far too many examples of cases in which the punishment does not fit the crime or where there’s no punishment at all. Either because of the statutes or because of the incompetence or political sympathies of the majority of the judges. For instance, surprisingly light–or no–sentences were meted out to the physically abusive "revolutionaries" in recent disturbances. The lack of repercussions emboldens those who do not respect the law; more and more one can read about people who attack the policemen who stop them for traffic violations.

I mentioned earlier one case where a Fidesz parliamentary member attacked the policemen who pulled him over and asked for his papers: he had none. He demanded special treatment because he was "a very important man, a member of parliament, and how do they dare…." And when they dared, he attacked.

Early this morning there was a near repeat performance, almost at the same place. This time "the very important person" was an Olympic champion. A member of the water polo team that received the gold medal in Sydney. He was drunk, and it took the police close to ten minutes to handcuff him and his buddy and push them into the car. The camera took a fairly decent video of the scene. For anyone’s personal enjoyment one can see the video here: Considering that eight policemen could hardly restrain two drunks says something about the relative mildness (or incompetence?) of the Hungarian police. I try to imagine a similar situation in the United States. If we had cameras taking videos, we sure wouldn’t have the pleasure of watching eight policemen struggle with two guys before they could handcuff them. Meanwhile the Olympic star was screaming obscenities and telling the policemen that they should be ashamed of themselves for trying to handcuff an Olympic champion. And as if this weren’t enough, he added that it is shameful that Gyurcsány who is a criminal is still loose while he is being handcuffed.

Well, the former Olympic champion and his companion, another water polo player in the Pécs club, were immediately suspended by the club. We don’t know what will happen to them in the long run, but at least their club didn’t try to whitewash their activities as happened a couple of years ago with two weight lifters after the Athens Olympics. (Mind you, the doping charges against the weight lifters were a tad more serious, and they ended up losing their medals.)

The other current case also had serious consequences: the police captain of District XIII in Budapest, a certain Ernő Kiss, lost his job. This morning his official car was found locked but abandoned on one of the streets within the district. There was only one problem with it. Before it came to a halt it hit three parked cars along the way. Kiss seems to have a drinking problem which had already gotten him into trouble earlier. This time what was his excuse? The old story: he wasn’t the driver of the car. His official car was stolen. It had been parked in front of his house in District II and, my golly, he didn’t notice its absence until this morning when it was found in District XIII. Who drove the car? Someone who resembles him. His enemies set him up; people who want to discredit him are waging a campaign against him.

His feeble lie points to Hungarian statutory inadequacy. Right now the Hungarian government is addressing this issue by planning legislation that would make the owner of the car (or in this case the person to whom the car is assigned) responsible for any traffic violation. The excuse that "my twin brother" was the driver (this is actually not a joke, someone did come up with this tale) cannot be used. Well, the country’s chief of police didn’t fall for the captain’s story: Kiss was immediately relieved of his duties. Good for him. I think it is high time to end this lawlessness.