Gyurcsány’s “case”: Not a very solid one in the first place

Just as the two-thirds Fidesz-KDNP majority assisted by Jobbik and LMP voted to suspend Ferenc Gyurcsány's parliamentary immunity it seems that the case against the former prime minister is already falling apart.

It is a complicated affair, not because it is intrinsically murky but because there are forces who want to make it that way. In fact, the murkier the better because by the end a whole complicated construct can be built in which no one can see clearly what really happened.

The case without the extra artificial complications piled upon it by the prosecutors and by Gyula Budai, the special investigator of corruption cases, was originally very simple. There was a group of investors who wanted to build a casino complex near Székesfehérvár, on the shore of a lake. One of the investors had a piece of land not far from Budapest, on the other side of the Danube, where according to the present laws governing gambling no casino can be operated. The investors therefore came up with the idea of a land swap. Joáv Blum, an Israeli-Hungarian citizen, offered his orchard in exchange for a tract of land belonging to the state where investors could build and operate a casino. I wrote about the case twice. First in August 2010 and four months later when I pointed out that Budai and the government behind him decided that if they are unable to bring charges against Gyurcsány in connection with the riots of September-October 2006, perhaps the casino affair will do. Those readers who are not familiar with the background should read my earlier articles. I don't want to go too much into the background here. Instead I will concentrate on how the prosecution's case is falling apart.

Joáv Blum, whose orchard was offered for the swap, naturally became the center of the attacks even though the real targets were not so much the investors as the Hungarian politicians and officials who were in any way involved with the case.

According to the prosecutors Blum's sins were numerous, including the charge of "forgery of official documents." Well, if you wonder what Hungarian prosecutors consider forgery of official documents, you may be surprised to hear the details of this case. Blum registered himself as a resident of a house he purchased in Sukoró, the village where the casino complex was to be built. He couldn't move in immediately because the house needed extensive repairs. But according to Hungarian law, which by the way a lot of people flaunt, one cannot register as an inhabitant of a dwelling unless he/she lives there all the time. Blum, who apparently doesn't know any Hungarian and is not familiar with Hungarian law, relied on his lawyer and on the mayor of Sukoró. Both of them assured him that there was nothing wrong with the registration.

Yesterday the court at Székesfehérvár acquitted Blum of the charge of forgery of an official document. The prosecution is appealing. After all, one cannot let this very important case fall by the wayside.laughing smiley

But that is small potatoes in comparison to what is most likely going on within the walls of the prosecutor's office. Before the swap took place the officials of the Magyar Nemzeti Vagyonkezelő, which handles state property transactions, hired four appraisers, three of whom came up with almost identical estimates. The fourth was way out of line: he claimed that there was a huge difference between the values of the two pieces of property. It was this outlier estimate that the prosecutors accepted as the basis of their decision to pursue the case. Now, however, there seems to be some question about the estimate the prosecution relied on. The prosecutors are asking for further data and information about this firm's estimate. It looks as if the prosecution fears that the court might not find its "proof" substantial enough.

And there might be further troubles facing the Hungarian government. There is an organization called the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes that operates under the World Bank. The men whose investment was foiled by the Hungarian government turned to the ICSID. If the decision goes against the Hungarian government here, which I suspect it may, the Hungarian government is in big trouble. An ICSID decision is final. And that will be a very expensive affair for an ugly political game the Hungarian government is playing.

Finally a good piece of news in another case. A former employee of the Ministry of Education, Tímea Borovszky, was falsely accused of bribery. In the lower court Borovszky received a two-year suspended jail sentence. However, yesterday on appeal she was found innocent. However, this is not the end of Borovszky's trouble. Gyula Budai initiated another case against her. This time she is accused of–what else–breach of fiduciary responsibility.

At least it seems that for the time being Hungarian courts are still independent and are following their best professional judgment. However, one is not at all sure whether this will be the case once 300 some judges are forced to retire at the age of 62 or when in special cases the prosecution can pick which court will handle its cases. All in all, the prospects for a truly independent judiciary are dim.

And finally, the numbers of signatures in support of the former prime minister are growing. Up to this point almost 7,500 people signed the protest. If anyone is interested in joining the group here is the URL:

http://www.peticiok.com/tiltakozas_a_gyurcsany_ferenc_elleni_koncepcios_eljaras_miatt

 

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Paul
Guest

So it looks like justice might actually be done and this farcical case thrown out – but only because there are remnants of the pre-OV justice system still functioning.
So, why didn’t Orbán wait until he had rigged the system to ensure he got Gy?
Another puzzle to add to the enigma that is OV. How can someone be so good at some things, and yet apparently so crap at others?
How can a man whose desire for total power and revenge is so overwhelming that he successfully organised a clinically brilliant, Hitleresque democratic ‘coup’, now stumble from hair-brained scheme to last-minute fix to unthought-through cock-up?
I am starting to fear Orbán’s mismanagement and hair-brained ideas more than his destruction of democracy and civil rights. The latter can be recovered from, albeit with difficulty, but economic destruction of the country could be terminal.
Mussolini at least got the trains running on time, and Hitler built the autobahns, but Orbán is just making Hungary a dysfunctional laughingstock.

LESZ-JOBB-IS
Guest

I heard the voice of many Orban supporters, who are still blindly worshiping the small time tyrants.
Orban’s militant non-lawyerly talk is an offense to all ears in the land of Ferenc Deak.
Orban uses aggressive expressions regarding deficit, unemployment, crime….a declaration of war on all matters, and makes all silent observers nauseous.
Gyurcsany and others may return to power someday to erase the bad taste, the FIDESZ/KNDP/JOBBIK left back.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “So, why didn’t Orbán wait until he had rigged the system to ensure he got Gy?”
Not really a puzzle. Don’t forget that the change is coming with January 1 and as the Hungarian justice system works it may take years before there is a verdict.

Paul
Guest

Éva – a couple of questions:
1. In one of your earlier pieces on this you said that five estimates of the difference in the value of the two pieces of land were made, one of which differed significantly from the other. But in today’s piece you say there were four estimates.
2. You also said both Gy and BG sued Budai over his allegations of their involvement (etc) – what happened with this? Did they go ahead? If so, when is the case likely to be heard? (if ever!)
Thanks.

Paul
Guest

Also, could you expand on the situation re the forced early retirement of judges please? When is this coming into force and how long do you think it will be before this change begins to seriously affect justice in the Hungarian court system?
Again, thanks in advance.

peter litvanyi
Guest
Thanks Eva: someone needs to be extremely factual here and that person would be you. Otherwise and about Feri: my Mom voted on him twice. This is a serious thing /Mom is a good judge, ask me/. I am 99.9 sure that if Feri saw a penny on the side of the road: he wouldn’t pick it up. He is just that sort of rare chap. These charges/?/ are pure bullshit. Also the majority of my Hungarian friends/ relatives/ I guess the general Hungarian population is extremely angry with Mr. Gyurcsany. He is the equivalent of Bill in the USA or Tony in the UK. They are right but those are moral and NOT criminal charges. In my opinion the “Oszodi Beszed” is unique. It’s great. My only problem with it is that it wasn’t performed publicly. Mr Gyurcsany had the authority to say it all on live television. He didn’t and he resigned when that was the worst idea /in retrospect especially/. The going got tough for the half liar, I guess. Except for his lies /made to please us all or perhaps because of his wish to be loved / Mr Gyurcsany is a very honest person; besides… Read more »
Jano
Guest

The Borovszky case is not that simple. Borovszky and a former colleague of hers are accusing each other and the first judge believed Attila Nagy’s accusation while the appellate court ruled that the proof is not beyond reasonable doubt. Case continues in front of the supreme court. My feeling is that somebody did something in that ministry and my hunch is that nobody is as innocent as they claim. What can be proved is a completely different question.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “Éva – a couple of questions: 1. In one of your earlier pieces on this you said that five estimates of the difference in the value of the two pieces of land were made, one of which differed significantly from the other. But in today’s piece you say there were four estimates”
Hmmm! Yesterday, I wrote from memory and I remembered four. But I will try to ascertain the actual number.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “My feeling is that somebody did something in that ministry and my hunch is that nobody is as innocent as they claim.”
We will see what Budai comes up with. I wouldn’t put much store into his accusations. If you read his many statements about Gyurcsány’s obvious guilt in the Surokó case you can see that he is totally unreliable and most likely totally dishonest.
And then I didn’t even mention his stupidity. Enough to take a look at him. Stupidity is written all over his face. Couldn’t they find someone more talented?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “Attila Nagy’s accusation while the appellate court ruled that the proof is not beyond reasonable doubt.”
The exact words: “felmentették [Borovszkyt] bűncselekmény hiányában.” As far as the accuser is concerned, he was also involved with HÖOK, the umbrella organization for student unions. One can hear horror stories about the leaders of that organization. Totally corrupt student leaders who terrorize the university’s administration. In addition, HÖOK is described as the breeding ground for future Fidesz politicians. So, the case may have had a political dimension. By the way, lately some of the HÖOK leaders gravitate toward Jobbik. One of the Jobbik MPs used to be the head of ELTE’s student union.

evianna
Guest
Johnny Boy
Guest

The decision of the court of Székesfehérvár is ridiculous. Joav Blum probably has money to pay for not only lawyers, but a judge too.
The reasoning was that Blum cannot be held responsible because he did not know that what he did was unlawful.
Please show me one legal system in the world where this is a reason.
Please show me one university where law education doesn’t begin with the rule of thumb that not knowing the law doesn’t acquit of the consequences of breaking it.
The second instance will surely decide differently, so they will go forth to the third instance.

Member

@Johnny But why is this petty “crime” appealed? By the way all you have to do is sending a letter to “jegyzo” (notary) announcing, that you live abroad. That’s what we did. Even if he’s “guilty” then what? A fine probably.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

Peter Litvanyi: thanks for the Brody Janos song. It sums up my feelings, too.

Member
“Actually, there were 3 appraisals + 1” Even more. Three originals, one control appraisal from the MNV, one from the Hungarian FBI (Központi Nyomozó Főügyészség). To me it seems the whole case hinges on the credibility of the appraisers. These properties are not something you see in Sunday paper so very likely all the appraisals can be defended. The difference what the FIDESZ claims the state would have lost is 1.3 billion. This is the difference between the worst ant best appraisals, so the actual value is very likely less then this. Just a few things to see what’s the state’s real “expense” is: 1. Blum will very likely sue the Hungarian state and has a shot for a couple of hundred million HUF. 2. The concession (the state’s share) for the casinos would have been 900 millions a year. 3. No 2500 jobs (what’s the extra tax revenue? Couple of hundred millions a year?) 4. No tourism revenue. Even if the appraisal values were fudged only in one year the state’s revenues would have covered it. My guess is this: Blum said 300 million + plus the orchards. Take it or leave it. They took it and fudged a… Read more »
Paul
Guest
So, to sum up, the facts that we know are as follows: 1. A group of investors wanted to set up a holiday/tourist complex (including a casino) on the shores of Velencei-tó. 2. The land they wanted to use (70 hectares/173 acres) was owned by the State. 3. They offered to ‘buy’ the land off the State by exchanging it for another piece of land (owned by Joáv Blum, one of the investors). This land was an orchard in Pest County and was about 2 and a half times the size of the lake-shore land, but worth less. 4. Several different appraisals of the value of the two pieces of land were carried out (at least 4) and we are told that the majority of these agreed on a price difference of about 300m Ft (£0.9m/€1.05m/1.45m$), but one (?) appraisal calculated the difference at 1.3b Ft – over 4 times as much. The prosecutors chose to use the higher figure for their case. 5. The project was going ahead until it was stopped by Pest County Land Office, on behalf of the regional land office, who had rejected the land transfer “for technical reasons”. (This is the least clear aspect… Read more »
Member
Johnny Boy: “The decision of the court of Székesfehérvár is ridiculous. Joav Blum probably has money to pay for not only lawyers, but a judge too.” Orban has money to pay for the judges too. So, your point is kind of lost. Johnny Boy: “The reasoning was that Blum cannot be held responsible because he did not know that what he did was unlawful. Please show me one legal system in the world where this is a reason.” Almost all legal systems of democratic countroes (except China for sure.) We know for a fact that Mr. Blum asked for legal advise from his lawyer and from the major of the town, and both have told him that he can claim residency. THe office clerk filled out all the paperwork in the presence of the mayor, the lawyer, the actuary and Mr Blum. I am not sure that beyond three officials who else’s advise Mr Blum should of asked for, as Mr Orban was not in the building at the tine. I am sure Johnny Boy will enlighten us if he has the answer. If not, then we just have to admit that Blum in fact is innocent. Facts: “a bérleti… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul, this is an excellent summary of the facts. As for the fate of Tátrai and Császy the investigation is still going on but the court decided that they can be released from jail. They will not flee or obstruct justice.

UK Belstaff Jackets
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