At one point Máriusz Révész was a constant fixture on TV because he was the spokesman both of Fidesz and of Viktor Orbán personally. A nano-bio: Révész was born in Budapest (1967) and after finishing high school in 1985 enrolled in the Teacher’s College of Eger where he majored in math and physics. According to his autobiography he has been teaching–I guess in addition to his party and parliamentary duties–in an elementary school in Budapest ever since 1990.
His fame was further enhanced because he was allegedly the subject of police brutality on October 23, 2006, when he had an encounter with the police battling the insurgents. There are conflicting contemporary accounts of the encounter. According to one, Révész was hit by a rubber bullet; others claimed that he was severely beaten by two policemen. On pictures taken right after the incident one can indeed see a small wound just above his right temple. His mouth is swollen and he seems to have a bandage on his lower right arm. Otherwise, he appeared to be in good spirits and claimed that he didn’t experience great pain. Later the story changed. It turned out, according to press releases, that he had broken ribs. From personal experience I can attest to the fact that broken ribs can be excruciatingly painful, so it’s unclear to me why he felt no pain. His Fidesz colleagues immediately came to visit him in the hospital. Here you can see Tibor Navracsics and Zsolt Semjén at Révész’s bedside where Révész exhibits few physical signs of the brutal beating. A day later his injuries appeared much more serious. A day later even more so. By the time he left the hospital and visited the parliament building he really looked pitiful. On the next three pictures one can see the progress of Révész’s injuries. There is also a fairly lengthy interview available on video in which Révész gives a detailed account of his movements before and after the incident. This is of some significance because a couple of days ago at the trial Révész claimed that he doesn’t remember anything. Nothing at all about the whole day. What he knows today he pieced together with the help of his friends and relatives. But there is a logical gap here because according to his earlier description of his movements right after the incident Révész claimed that he was alone. He and his family had attended the Fidesz meeting in front of the Astoria Hotel. Afterwards he sent his wife home with their two young sons (at the time two years old and six months old). Apparently he then visited his parents who presumably lived nearby and subsequently returned alone to “talk to the police.” He wanted to convince them to stop their “brutal attack” on this peaceful crowd. (The crowd was anything but peaceful.) He apparently waved his parliamentary ID but it didn’t help. Two policemen hit him several times and when he fell on the ground they stepped on him.
A few days later Révész hired a lawyer, Barnabás Futó, who normally represents people known for their right-wing politics. Révész sued his “unknown assailants.” The prosecutor’s office accepted the case and sought evidence that would support Révész’s claim. Eventually they found a video but it doesn’t prove that anyone is beating Révész. Perhaps you can see more than I could. Here is the url: http://tinyurl.com/qwfvl3 Even Révész himself admitted at the end of his commentary that the two policemen are just talking to him. So the video is basically useless. The prosecution’s only lead from the video was a potential witness. To the right was a bookstore and in the arcade there stood a man whom Révész’s lawyer sought as a witness. Either the prosecution couldn’t find him or he couldn’t provide the information they needed because to this day there is no witness to the incident. So one might have thought the case was dead in the water. Unknown assailants, no witness, and an alleged victim who now has no memory of the events.
But no, the prosecution identified two policemen who are not accused of the crime itself but of being accessories after the fact (bűnsegéd). It sounds to me as if they are accused of being policemen. One of the policemen claims that it was he who helped Révész off the ground and led him to the corner of Síp utca and Rákóczi út. The other insists that he asked Révész how he was and asked another policeman to call for medical help. What happened afterwards he couldn’t say.
So here we are, two and a half years after the events. The trial opened on May 8, 2009. Révész’s memory has completely faded. I guess it’s supposed to be some form of dissociative amnesia. While after the incident he could recall his movements prior to his “beating” by now remembers absolutely nothing. Nothing of the whole day. Not even the fact that he attended a party on the morning of October 23.
The prosecutor asked whether he was drunk at the time of the incident. Révész responded that he has never been drunk in his life. However, one of the policeman testified that “at first glance the wounded man seemed drunk.” The other one said that it wasn’t quite clear whether Révész’s slow and unsteady movement was caused by his injury or by drunkenness. Then came the medical expert who claimed that Révész’s injuries were caused either by a night stick or by some other other blunt instrument and that there were signs of blows and kicks. The charge is that three or four policemen “continuously and steadily” beat him up even when he was already on the ground. However, those three or four policemen who allegedly committed the crime are nowhere to be found.
The trial will continue on June 12! It will be a miracle if people can actually remember the details of the opening day’s testimony. But, disregarding the sluggish nature of Hungarian justice, I’m drawn to this strange case. Because at its core it’s Fidesz vs. the Hungarian police force. A police force they have consistently tried to undermine, all the while claiming that the government cannot maintain order in the country. They exploit the law to undercut those who are supposed to enforce the law. So here we are with two policemen standing trial as strawmen for the allegedly brutal policemen who committed offenses that no one witnessed and that can no longer be remembered by the alleged victim.