Béla Szabadi: Is he innocent?

In today’s papers there was a short news item: Béla Szabadi’s court case at the Court of Appeals is again postponed. Considering that the original court date was December 8, 2007, and now according to the article the court will continue the case in April, one can only wonder about the speed with which Hungarian courts handle cases. Especially since the case has been "considered" for seven years by now.

But let’s go back a bit. Who is Béla Szabadi? Our legal story begins in February 2001, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if people aren’t familiar with his name. Szabadi was József Torgyán’s right-hand man in the Ministry of Agriculture under Viktor Orbán. He got there in the following way. In 1998, after the first round of elections, Fidesz wasn’t doing well. MSZP was leading, but József Torgyán’s Smallholders had put in a creditable performance. So, according to some people, an unholy alliance was formed between Orbán and Torgyán. In more than 100 districts Torgyán recalled his party’s candidates before the second round, thus allowing Fidesz to win the elections. After the successful second round a coalition was formed between the two parties: the Smallholders got a few ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture which Torgyán himself occupied. His undersecretary was Béla Szabadi, whom Torgyán considered a "genius."

Szabadi finished Karl Marx University and was employed by the Economic Research Institute between 1979 and 1999. At that point the Economic Research Institute was under the Hungarian Statistical Office, and it seems to me that at the Institute Szabadi busied himself mainly with statistical analyses. He then spent five years in Moscow (1980-1985). He claims that he had to be satisfied with an assignment in an Eastern bloc country because his brother had left Hungary illegally. Whatever the case, Szabadi was employed at the secretariat of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the socialist countries’ answer to the Common Market. He worked there as a statistician.

Torgyán, as a lawyer in Budapest, knew next to nothing about agriculture. I don’t know whether Szabadi, his deputy, knew anything or not, but he had to run the ministry because the minister was galloping around the world. After all, what a wonderful opportunity to visit distant, exotic places. Especially if someone else paid the bill. Orbán promised Torgyán the position of president when Árpád Göncz’s tenure expired. Orbán, of course, had no intention of fulfilling this promise because it would have been a disastrous choice. Torgyán was basically a country bumpkin who would have been absolutely unsuited for the dignified position of the president. Somehow Orbán managed to convince Torgyán to give up the idea (or perhaps he blackmailed him). In any case Torgyán didn’t become president and soon enough he had to resign as minister of agriculture as well. Orbán had come up with the brilliant idea of preparing a budget not for one year as is customary in any normal country but for two years. As soon as the government parties voted for a two-year budget, Orbán no longer needed Torgyán and his party. Indeed, the budget was passed in December 2000 and in February 2001 Torgyán was gone. A few days after his departure his deputy, undersecretary Szabadi, was arrested and kept in preventive custody for three months. Altogether Szabadi spent thirteen months in solitary confinement. Eventually, in 2006 he received a two-year suspended sentence. The original charge was misappropriation but, according to Szabadi, that couldn’t be proven and therefore the charge was changed to abuse of authority. The charge was based on Torgyán’s generous gifts to a professional soccer team.

Ever since Szabadi has tried to convince the world of his innocence. According to him, the whole procedure against him was politically motivated; its aim was the destruction of the Smallholders’ party. Of course, I know only Szabadi’s side of the story. However, I asked someone in Hungary who is familiar with the case and, according to this person, it is very possible that Szabadi is actually innocent.

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Vándorló
Guest

There is, of course, a perfectly good reason why justice, if it ever comes, takes so long in Hungary. A number of years ago the judiciary decided they wanted longer holidays (they already only work a 3 days week at best), so they asked that the whole of Summer be free. As the judiciary are the people who know where all the political ‘bodies’ are buried, no politician was willing to stand in their way. At best, they collectively work for less than half of the year.
For justice this has the beneficial effect of allowing court cases which look like they might actually bring someone to trial to run out of time before it ever gets there. As court cases have to be brought within a legal limit and the amount of time available is small it is easy for politicians (aided and abetted by the internal regulatory bureaucracy that has no real interest in justice) to simply sit on a case and watch the clock.
The corollary being that those people who were definitely guilty of some crime, but never brought to justice through lack of judicial time, can claim innocence and even sue their accusers of libel.

Dumneazu
Guest

This case reminds me of a joke that was current during the time of the FIDESZ administration, which may have its origins in this kind of political betrayal.
“Viktor Orbán is fishing in the Danube with his trusted friend and Cabinet Minister, Kövér László. László looks over and see Viktor catch a fish, but on looking closer, he sees that it is a magic gold fish (which in Hungarian jokes is the equivalent of the genie-in-a-bottle that grants one’s wish…) Suddenly he sees Viktor begin gutting the fish. Kövér László runs over to Orbán and shouts “Viktor! What are you doing? That’s a magic goldfish! If you ask it for something, it will grant you your wish!”
And as Orbán cuts off the head of the goldfish he replies “It’s OK. I already asked.”

Dr. Szabadi Béla
Guest

Szeretném, ha a legalább a durva hibákat kijavítanák.
Üdvözlettel: Dr. Szabadi Béla

Dr. Szabadi Béla
Guest

Szeretném, ha legalább a durva hibákat kijavítanák. Ebben szívesen segítek és mindenképpen konzultálok.
Üdvözlettel: Dr. Szabadi Béla, aki nem statisztikus és nem a KSH Közgazdasági Intézetében dolgozott. És Torgyán nem adott ajándékot a Fradinak. Stb.
Üdvözlettel: Dr. Szabadi Béla

Dr. Szabadi Béla
Guest

Addig is ajánlom figyelmükbe honlapomat:
http://www.szabadibela.hu/

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Dear Mr. Szabadi, you may not like the translation of Gazdaságkutató Intézet as Economic Research Institute, but the Gazdaságkutató Intézet was affiliated with the Central Statistical Office. Otherwise, please don’t expect me to represent your point of view. I simply asked whether you’re innocent or not and added at the end that you might be. I think that’s sufficient.

Dr. Szabadi Béla
Guest

Kedves Éva S. Balogh! Nem a Gazdaságkutató Intézet fordítása a gondom, még csak az sem, hogy az intézet nem volt a KSH része. Hanem az, hogy sok, ennél jelentősebb ténybeli hiba van az anyagban, amelyek így valótlan képet adnak rólam, illetve tevékenységemről. Ezeket szívesen felsorolom, ha szükséges, de mindenképpen kérem a kijavításukat. (Életrajzom fent van a honlapomon, olvassák el.) Természetesen nem tartok igényt arra, hogy álláspontomat képviseljék, de arra igen, hogy a tényekhez ragaszkodjanak.
Ha nem ezt teszik, megtisztelő és különben helytálló véleményük arról, ártatlan vagyok-e, kevésbé lesz hiteles és meggyőző.
Szívélyes üdvözlettel: SzB

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

I really don’t want to get into an argument, but my impression was that one of my “serious mistakes” was that I connected the Economic Research Institute to the Central Statistical Office. For the sake of accuracy here is my source: “A tervgazdaság 1968-as reformja részeként újjászületett Gazdaságkutató Intézet a Központi Statisztikai Hivatalhoz kötődött.”
I don’t think that there is much more to talk about. Anyone who is interested in your bio can go and look it up on your homepage.

Sandor
Guest

I ask you and also take the opportunity to ask him too: If he spent millions on frivolous experts, without ever getting anything of value in return, if he threw his weight around and intimidated everybody into doing his bidding while the ministry burned through hundreds of millions, for which he was fully responsible, how in hell can be innocent?
He may prove that he broke no law, or better yet, he may prove that the prosecution failed to prove that he has.
But that doesn’t make him innocent. Does it?

Sandor
Guest
I am sorry again to post twice. (let that be enough) I realize that in my short post above I was a bit timid in expressing my opinion, so let me firm it up a little. Dr. Szabadi is one of the exemplars, in fact the poster boy of the corrupt eminence gris who bobbed up from obscurity in the turmoil of the regime change and unabashedly took advantage of the poorly regulated nascent capitalism and its “blessings.” As the svengali of the hapless and idiotic baboon, his boss Torgyan, he went to town at avery chance he got and instead of doing his job, he spent the millions on building his image and his prestige. He is protesting his innocence ever since and with some justification, since he was dealt with harshly and unjustly by his unscrupulous political partners. But he would have done the same in their place, because he did so in his own place given the opportunity. He may not be guilty of what he is charged, but surely he is guilty of his ministry’s abominable record and policies, such as for example the forcible disintegration of co-operatives, on purely ideological grounds, from which the agrarian… Read more »
Dr. Szabadi Béla
Guest
Már régóta tapasztalom, hogy két világ vesz körül. Egy valóságos és egy virtuális. Ez utóbbival nem tudok elszámolni, ahhoz semmi közöm. Ráadásul arról ismeretlenek is többet tudnak, mint én, hiszen ők alakítják, ők találnak ki „eseményeket”. Amit rólam itt Sándor leadott, dermesztő. Ahogy az is, hogy hiába akartam elmondani, hol tévednek a cikk szerzői a tényeket tekintve. Teljesen érdektelennek bizonyult, amire fel akartam hívni a figyelmet, mindenki írta tovább a maga storyját. Ettől függetlenül. Sándor még a bűn és a bűnösség fogalmát sem ismeri, ami jelen esetben csak jogi fogalom lehet, mivel büntetőeljárásról van szó. Javaslom Sándornak, írjon nekem a honlapomra. Fedje fel a kilétét, ne így a sötétből írjon sértéseket és butaságokat. És semmiképpen ne gyűlölködjön. A történtek ellenére ma sem érzek gyűlöletet. Inkább gondolja bele magát az olyan helyzetbe, amibe juttattak. És semmit ne tegyen ilyen felszínes és fals ismeretekkel. Csak remélni tudom, hogy szakmájában nem így operál. A mezőgazdaság különben szépen fejlődött azokban az években. Nézze meg a statisztikai adatokat: termelés, export stb. Pedig hallatlanul nehéz körülmények voltak. Az olyan frázisokkal, hogy tönkre tették a mezőgazdaságot, nem lehet mit kezdeni. Akkor sem, ha nagyjából igaz lenne, hát még, ha teljesen fals. Good night, Sándor! Pihenje ki magát!… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Dear Mr. Szabadi, if I may give you a piece of advice: try not to be too long-winded. Every time I saw you in an interview situation on television I never managed to find out exactly what your story was. You get lost in the details. You start with Adam and Eve as the saying goes. Cut to the chaise. As Sandor said: you may have been framed, but a lot of people most likely are convinced that Torgyán et al. and Orbán deserved each other.

Sandor
Guest
Dear Dr. Szabadi, If you permit, I prefer the public exchange to the private. I am in no position to dispute the legalities of your case, but I do have the memories and the experience to refer you to some of the facts you always fail to face up to. Your and your minister’s reign at the Ministry would have been a farce, if it weren’t a tragedy. Shortly after your and your government’s departure state owned agricultural companies, with over hundred years of successful history, went bankrupt. They had to be given away. The peasants shortly after you, were forced to strike and are, to this day, depending on subsidies. While your minister supposedly opened up the world for the export of Hungarian cherries, today the producers rather dump it in front of the Parliament then to sell it at the price offered. You destroyed the Russian market without replacing it with anything and you destroyed the co-operatives that today would be able to compete in the world’s markets and would be enormously profitable in today’s high-priced market place. I admit, I felt sorry for what was done to you when I saw it. But never, for even a… Read more »
Sandor
Guest

Again a double antre, sorry.
I wish in fact if Dr. Szabadi would finally come forward and should tell the facts.
In the name of objectivity, I offer to alter my harsh opinion in the face of facts, if they would be convincing.
But why should I alone be convinced? Shouldn’t the whole world learn those facts and be convinced by them?
Here is the opportunity to accomplish that.
I invite you Dr. Szabadi, for the second time, do not waste your time knocking the style and blemishes of our postings, instead, tell us your facts, in whatever language that is comfortable to you. The field is yours.

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