The Hunvald case: New developments

We talked a lot about György Hunvald, the former MSZP mayor of District VII (Erzsébetváros) who was arrested more than two years ago and kept in jail without being charged. Eventually the prosecutor's office came up with an explanation for keeping this man in jail for so long: he conspired to cheat Erzsébetváros out of 300 million forints. Again the same old story: he sold properties belonging to the District below market value. And because he allegedly did this by conspiring with others, he can receive a jail sentence of up to twenty years. Keeping him in jail was also justified by the charge of conspiracy.

A few weeks ago the case got to the trial stage. The prosecutors produced thousands and thousands of pages of "evidence," except the indictment was so poorly constructed that the presiding judge simply didn't see any rationale for the accusation of conspiracy. She asked the prosecutor's office to amend the indictment but the prosecutors refused to oblige. Most likely because they had no more to show than the half sentence that was in the original indictment. The judge thus decided that continuing to hold Hunvald and his "co-conspirator" György Gál in jail was unwarranted. On Friday, May 13, they were abruptly informed that they were free to go home. That pretty well indicates to me that the charge of conspiracy will die in the courtroom. Thus remains the contention that the eight pieces of property whose sale the city council unanimously approved were sold at a discount to market price.

Hunvald, now at home with his wife and four children, gave several lengthy interviews. A video is on ATV. He also gave an interview Saturday to Népszava that was published today. In it Hunvald claims that no crime was committed. On the contrary, selling the eight pieces of property was actually "a success story." He is also certain that his case will be taught at law schools sometime in the future as an example of the worst kind of prosecutorial proceedings.

Hunvald had a long time to get familiar with the passage of time. He spent 823 days in jail. Not even armed robbers spend that much time in jail without an indictment. He claims that the only reason he managed to survive psychologically was that he knew he was innocent. Hunvald's lawyer some time ago turned his case over to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg because of the incredibly long incarceration during which he had no way of proving his innocence.

Hunvald also claims that the prosecutors are unfamiliar with the most commonly used economic terms like ownership, market price, income, profit. Although this contention seems far-fetched, we know from other cases that the prosecutors and the judges are woefully ignorant of the business world.

The real story, at least according to Hunvald, is that Erzsébetváros owned several rental apartment houses. They were built more than one hundred years ago without modern conveniences. Inhabitants of several apartments had to share the same toilet somewhere at the end of the corridor. The local government had no money to fix up the buildings and modernize them. Therefore the decision was made to sell them. However, before such a sale could be effected the city fathers had to find alternative housing for the people who lived in these apartments. It became evident after a while that finding acceptable residences for these people would cost the District more than the amount of money they could get for these old properties. Thus, the council decided that they would sell the old houses for less money but make the new owners responsible for relocating the residents.

Hunvald claims that the transactions actually brought 300 million forint in profits to the District because that was the difference between monies received and the market value of the houses.  Several experts were asked about the market value of the properties and they all more or less agreed that the price was fair. At the same time Hunvald claims that in the almost two and a half years that he was in jail the prosecutor's office didn't bother to ask a real estate appraiser to determine the value of the properties in question.

Apparently all told the Erzsébetváros city council sold about forty houses and managed to arrange better accommodations for more than one hundred families. The prosecutors targeted eight of these sales.

As is being increasingly clear, judges often find the prosecution's cases inadequate. And since more and more people suspect that the prosecutor's office is independent only on paper and has actually been serving the political purposes of Fidesz for years, there is still trust in the judiciary. But that happy state of affairs will not last for long. We know what has happened to the Constitutional Court already, and soon enough instead of eleven judges the Fidesz-run parliament will vote on the appointment of four new ones, bringing the total to fifteen. We also know that about two hundred judges will soon be departing because they are over 62 years old. Until now the judges didn't have to retire until age 70. In the not too distant future not only will the prosecutor's office be "the extended arm of Viktor Orbán" as Ferenc Gyurcsány said the other day, the judges will also be in his pocket.

Meanwhile even the old constitution had to be changed in order to pass another unconstitutional act: about 30,000 retired members of the police, army, firefighters, and border guards will have to return to work. They are retired no more. After hearing the spokesman for these groups, I would be worried if I were the government. These guys are not joking.

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örökmagyarboldogság
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örökmagyarboldogság

Pointed turn of unhaps for fidisz. Even putin call feel sorry for the kontár-prosecution.
i want to see more failures of the fityisz.
jobbik may kill itself, to, in the coming dry summer.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

The imprisonment of György Hunvald and György Gál on what appears to be to say the least a farrago of charges. I have a suspicion that the detention of the two gentlemen is politically motivated. It also shows a great weakness in the Hungarian in the administration of Justice. A nation’s legal system which allows its prosecutors to detain accused persons to be detained without for long periods without a judicial examination of the indictment, then that legal system breaks the basic fundamental rules of European Justice. These are enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights (All Trolls should read them). If the European Court of Human Rights finds for the plaintives (Hunvald and Gál) then on the facts reported in this blog the damages and compensation will make the Greek National debt seem like small change. The judges’ comments on the state of Hungarian justice will be horrendous.

Member

Odin, basic human fundamental rights not only enshrined in the European Court of Human Rights, but in any developed nations’ basic law and understanding. THe avoidance of these basic rights by various governments/regimes that creates most internal conflicts, and forces people to flee their country. (Than you encounter dirtbags, who tell those who were forced to flee since they left their country, have no rights to criticize the other dirtbags left behind.) Slowly but surely Hungary will be affiliated with the Balkan (and not in a good sense).

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Someone What I find difficult to understand is that either the prosecutor (or the supervising ministry (Ministry of Justice) is not aware of this and the size of the fines and compensation payments which will be imposed on them by the European Court. Surely they must know this or are they so dim that they have forgotten that Hungary had to sign up to the Charter of Human Rights before they could apply to join the E.U. Do they perhaps fear ‘His Mightiness’ and ‘Beloved Leader’ than the Supreme Court of Law of the EU.
One must always remember the European dimension. I know it is a slow process but like the mills of God (and of the EU grind slow but grind exceeding fine. Is it perhaps the Hungarian establishment believe that the ‘Beloved Leader’ can do the impossible and put his influence over the judges of that court?

kormos
Guest
This is totally off topic, but it does not matter, since Ms. Balogh would not publish this letter. It is her turn now to tear it apart. Response to István Deak “A Threat to Whom?” Dear István, Ensconced in your ivory tower on Morningside Drive and West 118th Street, your article “Hungary: The Threat” in the New York Review of Books was for me a great disappointment. I have followed your writings and been an admirer of your scholarly work and many of your thought provoking essays, but this latest piece (April 28, 2011, vol. LVIII, no. 7, pp. 35-37) was to say the least, a great let-down. Why? Because you have uncritically joined the pack of denigrators who attempt to present the current Orban government in Hungary as a sinister threat to European and democratic values. You have taken over hook-line-and-sinker the accusations, the labeling and the mood of the discredited and defeated MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) and SZDSZ (Free Democrat Party) activists. These parties used their time in power – particularly from 2002 to 2010 – to fill their own pockets and continue the failed policies of the Horn, Medgyessy and last phase of the Kadar governments and… Read more »
Member

Wow! Johnny Boy Deluxe!
Kormos, next time just include the link please. It’s not polite to dump in the middle of a personal blog like this. Just summarize Mr Emeritus’ article and add you comments.

An
Guest

@kormos:
“Both the SZDSZ and MSZP were parties composed mainly of opportunists who used their power positions for self-aggrandizement and not the “good” of the commonweal.”
“Most of the members of these parties were the privileged children of the pre-1989 ruling class who grew up during the years of the “soft” dictatorship of Kadar’s Gulyas Communism. Many of them were sent to Western universities for their education and they had the best of both worlds – paid for by the loans of the IMF, or grants from the Soros Foundation on the short-run, but the Hungarian tax-payer on the long run. As beneficiaries of this system they saw no need to bring about real reform. ”
Hahaha .. you could have written these lines about Fidesz as well… like the Fidesz is not a party comprised of opportunists…
The above is true for most people in Fidesz, including OV himself, who went to England on a Soros grant and got a law degree on Hungarian taxpayers money. Or take our beloved President turned from high ranking MSZMP functionary to Christian-conservative President protecting (destroying?) the Hungarian language…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kormos: “This is totally off topic, but it does not matter, since Ms. Balogh would not publish this letter.”
Well, as far as I’m concerned the letter can stay where it is. What I don’t understand why Ludányi didn’t send his letter straight to István Deák. We know that Deák here and there reads this blog but it would have been better to send it to him directly.
As far as Ludányi’s opinions are concerned. Sure, he doesn’t agree with Deák. Why should he. He seems to be an uncritical supporter of Fidesz.
One more thing. I was amused by the sentences on Bayer and Orbán. Orbán not lowering himself down to the level of this gutter journalist? They are good friends and are often seen at Fidesz functions together. So much for the gutter journalist.

Guest

That letter was really funny – the comments above show how idiotic it is, like “Bayer and Orbán – no connection at all” and “privileged children of the ruling class” – what about Orbán’s father ?
Of course my Hungarian wife told me all those things – nobod sane in Hungary likes Fidesz and Orban, but there are many crazies around …
PS: Just waiting for JB’s response …

Member
brahaha. I did not read Kormos’ post to be honest but the reply, and being to tired today I somehow missed in An’s quote from Kormos that the quote was referring to SZDSZ and MSZP. Ithought how well said about Fidesz and Jobbik and especially about spoiled Orban that “Most of the members of these parties were the privileged children of the pre-1989 ruling class who grew up during the years of the “soft” dictatorship of Kadar’s Gulyas Communism. Many of them were sent to Western universities for their education and they had the best of both worlds – paid for by the loans of the IMF, or grants from the Soros Foundation on the short-run, but the Hungarian tax-payer on the long run. As beneficiaries of this system they saw no need to bring about real reform. ” Then came the punch line from An “The above is true for most people in Fidesz,” I had to go back and realize the quote referred to MSZP bahahaha People in glass houses should not throw rocks!!!! Ludanyi and Kormos as great hypocrites as Orban. Welcome ay Fidesz! Kormos, what is your opinion about the original post about human rights? What… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest
And Paul thought the article of Istvan Deak is not critical enough… I think this letter is a good reference if one does not read Fidesz’ creed every day (in case one forgets the arguments). “Too much of the baggage of the previous Kádár years was brought into the “new order.” ” I fully agree with this sentence. The problem is that I learned that this period is still considered to be rather goods times for Hungary. Then (if many people are more or less close to the regime and content with it) a big bang change as in the more rigid Communist states may not be easy to bring about. The result is that a break with the past (also intellectually) is difficult and perhaps in particular for some people in MSzP (and certainly others too). But this party was elected to the government three times after 1990. For me this appears to be the price to be paid for the relatively liberal times during Communism. But what is remarkable is that the opposition to this slow “intellectual transition” comes from people who apparently make an even slower intellectual transition into the 21st century as they get back to… Read more »
kormos
Guest

Ms.Balogh. Thank you for restricting yourself in your reply. I am not the messenger between the two individuals. I received this as an e-mail attachment and thought it would be something of a counterpoint in your blog. I am sure Mr. Deak received it well before me.
To Someone: I am almost sure that our views regarding human rights issues are very close.

Member

kormos: Thank you. In no way I meant to offend you, and if I did I apologize.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Mr Kormos I am afraid that I am going to take you task about the letter you have included here from Prof Andrew Ludanyi to a Mr István Deak (neither of whom I know). The inclusion of this letter has, I am afraid, diverted attention away from a gross Miscarriage of Justice. Two people (György Hunvald and György Gál) have been deprived of their liberty for some 823 days on the flimsy of flimsy charges. If this was done on the orders of the prosecution without proper judicial process then those who allowed this to happen are guilty of illegal detention etc. When two people have been detained in this way then I am afraid I am just not interested in a ‘Holy Crown’ which is after all just a king’s ceremonial hat. What does this confounded bauble do? If I give it two small fishes and five barley loaves will it feed everyone? No it just seems to sit there on a cushion gathering dust. What is more important to me is that two people seem to have been locked away on what is reported to be a just an opinion of a prosecutor and a perversion of the… Read more »
magyarszomor
Guest

let us not trust internet letters…..first, we should investigate the ludanyi letter’s authenticity..and the truth about Deak’s views….let us figure out the rest later.

Johnny Boy
Guest
“Just waiting for JB’s response” What response? That letter is waay too long and I only managed to read the first few paragraphs. It is exactly as subjective as Deák’s viewpoint – only on the other side. I may agree with most of what is written in Ludányi’s letter but this letter is not a good instrument to ‘win’ a battle because: 1. nobody will read it, just scrolling through it took my whole afternoon. 2. it is emotionally charged so it cannot gain the support of those who are not yet supporters. 3. the letter shows the symptom of the “Stockholm syndrome” by trying to conform his opponent’s view when it labels Bayer a gutter journalist, yet he fails to mention that his own quote (“excrement”) is the exact mirror of the opinion of the gutter-dweller Cohen. This is a major mistake! What he should have done instead: 1. cut the letter a lot shorter 2. have a more professional approach, just rebutting the lies in Deák’s publication and contrasting it with the truth would have been easily enough 3. no need for the many exclamation marks which convey severe emotional content, repelling neutral readers 4. NEVER EVER conform… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

“nobody will read it, just scrolling through it took my whole afternoon.”
Perhaps Fidesz could invest a bit into your hardware or software.

Member

@Kirsten Johnny is right. I actually appreciate that he didn’t break out in ecstatic adoration like people usually on the right when they accidentally stumble into an article written by a seemingly intelligent somebody preferably with a title that praises OV. Then they email it to the world. Somebody on the RateMyProfessor.com wrote about Prof. Emeritus: “Rambles a lot and his voice puts you to sleep.”. He was teaching in Ohio Northern University. Not exactly Yale …
It’s interesting that it seems to be sheer luck what kind of loony Eastern-European emigre you get in a US college to teach you political science. One will teach you that OV is a great guy and in 2006 Gyurcsany fired into the crowd. In another college you get a sane prof and you hear the opposite.

Kirsten
Guest
Mutt, I took it literally that he had been scrolling the whole afternoon wondering what may have made it so tedious. But seriously as regards the letter, I did not consider it to be an academic text, for me this is a compilation of “arguments” used by Fidesz and its supporters. Certainly you know them from other sources, and JB knows them by heart, but for me reading through such a text in Hungarian would indeed make me read the whole afternoon. It is a good summary of what is considered to be an argument for Fidesz supporters. “You have taken over hook-line-and-sinker the accusations, the labeling and the mood of the discredited and defeated MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) and SZDSZ (Free Democrat Party) activists.” The article was signed and obviously reflected the opinions and choises of Istvan Deak. This is how trustworthy the arguments seem to me. But still, for people less fluent in Hungarian, this gives a good flavour of what the supporters of Fidesz think. When I studied East European Studies many years ago, there were a number of Czech emigrees who left after 1968 and some of them were not loony when speaking Czech but were… Read more »
kormos
Guest

To Mutt: Förlåt mig! Din engelska ordböcker är bättre än min. Jag måste mycket lära av er hövlighet.

Member

@Kormos All I can say is “Smörgåsbord”. Literally …

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