The alleged murderers: Real Hungarian Nazis

The news broke yesterday around noon. The police finally found the alleged culprits they had been looking for for over a year–the suspects in the attacks on Gypsies that resulted in the deaths of six people, including a five-year-old boy. The relief was palpable. Not only the Roma population but the country as a whole breathed a sigh of relief. Among other things, these crimes were tarnishing Hungary's reputation. I guess the happiest man must have been József Bencze, the police chief. There was tremendous pressure on him and on the Hungarian police in general to solve the case. I personally started to be annoyed with representatives of the Hungarian media when they kept pressuring spokesmen of the police force. In their questions there was always the implied accusation that the police were at best plodding, at worst useless.

The police first put together a team of one hundred detectives to investigate the case. A few months later they added another twenty men. Eventually help came from the FBI and its Hungarian equivalent, the Magyar Nemzeti Nyomozóiroda (NNI). They also tried to elicit public help by offering 100 million forints ($530,000) to anyone who could lead the police to the murderers. That is a lot of money by any standard but in Hungary it is a fortune. In the end it turned out that the police themselves solved the case without any critically important tips. The police chief kept repeating that his men were working day and night and were sparing no time or effort. Among their projects was checking 4.5 million cell phone calls; it was one or more of these calls that eventually led the police to the men. Oh, those cell phones. They are dangerous if one is up to no good!

The police always suspected that the four or five people involved in the murders were related. Although the full picture is emerging slowly and not all the details are known, it seems that of the four people arrested two are brothers. They live in Debrecen and work as bouncers in a downtown bar. The two others are also bouncers in a nearby karaoke bar and live in a village close to the city. HírTV claims to know that these two are somehow related to István K. and his brother. Both bars are rented by the same man, Zoltán Barabás, who seems to know mighty little about the men he hired. In fact, he claims not to know them at all, although he did see them here and there when he went to visit his establishments. Mr. Barabás certainly wasn't paying much attention either to his bouncers or his pubs since the police found shotguns in the wall behind the bar. I assume that we are not talking about a solid wall but some wooden panelling. Soon enough it also became known that these characters belong to an organization called Keleti Arcvonal Bajtársi Szövetség (Eastern Firing Line Fraternal Society) named after Ferenc Szálasi's storm troopers. The locals seem to know that among the arrested there are people who took part in setting fire to the Ark of the Covenant in the Debrecen synagogue in the 1990s.

In addition to the four men who have been arrested there is a fifth person, a woman who is in charge of organizing programs for the bar. The police let her go, but she will be questioned as a witness. The suspicion is that the woman knows more about the men and their activities than an average co-worker should. A sixth person will be also questioned. He is a young guy who works there as a bartender. Bencze indicated that perhaps more people will be arrested in the near future. Apparently inhabitants of Debrecen are in shock and are afraid that their city henceforth will be known as the home of racist murderers. Debrecen is a Fidesz stronghold where, by the way, Jobbik did better than the national average.

There is no question that these attacks and killings were racially motivated. Two of the men arrested had tattoos related to Hitler and Nazism. All four have shaven heads and apparently can be connected to Nazi websites.The police searched sixteen different places and seized a lot of evidence: weapons, maps, and three black SUVs that many witnesses saw in the villages where the attacks occurred. Apparently the amount of stuff seized is enormous. A fullsize van was necessary to haul non-vehicular evidence away. According to the latest information the four were already planning their next hit, a village in the county of Nógrád. The police found one map where even the targeted house was marked!

The police always suspected that among the perpetrators there had to be someone with military training. We know that the age spread is considerable: between twenty-eight and forty-two. The younger ones most likely didn't serve in the Hungarian army. So when I read that MTI (Magyar Távirati Iroda) learned that one of the suspects had been a professional soldier I figured that he probably belonged to the older crew. Apparently this man got hold of the weapons and taught the others to handle them.

One thing is sure: it will hard to minimize the far-right danger in Hungary from here on. The police already has nine people under arrest as members of the Arrows of Hungarians that was targeting politicians. Four more now from Szálasi's storm troopers, and most likely there will be others. I just read that today some Jobbik members crossed into Slovakia to join the Slovak Brotherhood (Slovenská Pospolitos) in demonstrating against "Gypsy crime" in Krompachy (Korompa), a sizeable village in eastern Slovakia with a large Roma population. The Slovak government handled the situation well. The Brotherhood's leader, Marián Kotlebát, was arrested and the illustrious members of Jobbik were turned back to Hungary. Another group of Jobbik members blockaded one side of the bridge between Komárom and Komárno in order to protest Slovakia's treatment of László Sólyom, while another group headed by Jobbik EP member, Csanád Szegedi–the one who showed up in Magyar Gárda uniform at the opening of the European Parliament–laid a wreath at the new statue of St. Stephen in Komárno. While some Magyar Gárda members were busy in Komárno, a "new" Hungarian Guard held a swearing-in ceremony on private property in Szentendre, the birthplace of Hungarism. How appropriate! What I especially don't like is that because of Sólyom's insensitivity and bullheadedness a situation has developed where Jobbik and the Hungarian Guard can claim to be defending the brave, ill-treated president of the republic. I don't know whether Sólyom actually realizes what's going on, but nothing good.

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Viking
Guest

If any one want to check out an old UNCHR report where these Debrecen-Nazis are mentioned you can find it in
Human Rights Watch,
Rights Denied:
The Roma of Hungary,
1 July 1996,
available at:
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3ae6a7e10.html
Note the date, these guys were out early and that the Good People of Debrecen had Nooo Idea that these nice men actually did these things..?
Never heard that one before.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Professor you say that the press * “In their questions there was always the implied accusation that the police were at best plodding, at worst useless.”. I hope the police were plodding by checking, checking and re-checking, making certain that they had a ‘cast iron’ case (gas tight, water tight and solid diamond) before they started to ‘feel collars’. News hounds always want instant success and a story, but they forget the old saying ‘The mills of God (and of good policemen) grind slow but grind exceeding fine’. Where this will all lead to I do not know there are many other ‘collars’ yet to be felt and many other ‘names and addresses’ yet to be taken The police will have by now followed the money back to its sources, and have discovered the mechanism by which victims were targeted. As a result of the on-going investigations the NNI will gain a huge insight into the far right, Jobbik and perhaps some of the levels of Fidesz who are very sympathetic to the far rights’ ambitions. I hope that this information is kept secret as it may well lead to other nasty little plots and plans. The news hounds will… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Viking: You are fantastic finding this Human Watch report from 1996. I made a feeble attempt at finding something on the Torah burning but because I didn’t know the exact date the information wasn’t popping up immediately and I was running out of time. There is no question in my mind that we are talking about the same two guys. The youngest of the four is now 28 and therefore he must be the one who is described in the report as the 16-year old. I for one can’t quite believe that the owner of the two bars had no idea who these people were. Thank you for the link.

Joseph Zuberec
Guest

Viking: Blaming Sólyom for anything is more than ridiculous. Why don’t you mention the idiotic conduct of the Slovak ultra nationalist government for trying to destroy the Hungarian minority in Slovakia. Those Hungarian people live there for Centuries and is not their fold that idiotic peace treaties after WWI and WW2 changed the borders around them.
Joseph Zuberec

Sophist
Guest

Eva,
“One thing is sure: it will hard to minimize the far-right danger in Hungary from here on. The police already has nine people under arrest as members of the Arrows of Hungarians that was targeting politicians. Four more now from Szálasi’s storm troopers, and most likely there will be others”
With no more outstanding extremist crimes unaccounted for, and all the alleged perpetrators under arrest, I would argue that the police actually have minimised the far-right danger in Hungary.
Whether there will be others will I suppose depend on if the police have got the right men, and the response of the far right parties to these arrests – will they see these men as martyrs or monsters?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest
Sophist: “Whether there will be others will I suppose depend on if the police have got the right men, and the response of the far right parties to these arrests – will they see these men as martyrs or monsters?” Number one. As far as I know there will most likely more arrests. Bencze already indicated that much. Number two. I’m almost 100% certain that they got the right men. Number three. You may think that 9+4 is nothing but you must consider those large far-right masses who may not have killed anyone but who approve of these four’s acts. Then there is the Keleti Arcvonal Bajtársi Szövetség to which these people belonged. That organization was registered in 1995 and address of the organization was the same as the Hungarian Smallholders’ Party. Torgyán apparently knew about them and kept good relations with Hungarists abroad. The Smallholders were coalition partners of Orbán. The man who owns the bars is a close friend of Lajos Kósa. So, believe me we are talking about a net covering the whole right side of the political spectrum with the exception of today’s MDF. But the old MDF was in it all the way. Enough to… Read more »
Sophist
Guest

“The man who owns the bars is a close friend of Lajos Kósa”
An opportunity, then, for Orbán to kill two birds with one stone when he’s giving the Magyar Garda “a few slaps”

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