Although I’m sorry to leave the historical topic of the Hungarian army’s defeat near Voronezh, I have to move on to another sordid affair, albeit something that is happening today.
I have often expressed my firm conviction that most of the trials of former officials are political witch hunts that served Fidesz particularly well before the elections and that still may score points with the voters. One of the biggest fish Fidesz set its sights on was Miklós Hagyó, MSZP deputy mayor of Budapest. The the primary target of Fidesz’s wrath was naturally Ferenc Gyurcsány, but even the foxy head of the Hungarian prosecutor’s office couldn’t find evidence to drag the former prime minister to court. So, they settled for the second string, the government officials in charge of the office that handled state properties in the Sukoró land swap.
I wrote about the Hagyó case last September: “A botched-up show trial in Hungary.” Since then the trial has dragged on, and more and more of the accused are retracting their earlier testimony, claiming that it was given under duress. Only a couple of days ago one of the accused retracted her testimony. And today Éva H., who is named #6 among the 15 accused men and women, also took back her earlier confession of guilt and gave a vivid description of her trials and tribulations during her stay in a Hungarian jail.
Let me start with a description of Éva H.’s testimony as reported by MTI. I am using MTI’s website as a source. The report was filed today at 6:40 p.m. Here we learn that Éva H. accused the investigators of pressuring her to accuse Miklós Hagyó of fraud that cost the Budapest Transit Authority billions. As for the circumstances of her being pressured, MTI’s reporter mentions in his report only that “the accused talked about her testimony and the circumstances under which that testimony was made.” As for particulars, she told the judge that although she was in jail for three months the investigators made no attempt to question her for at least two and a half months. As for intimidation, MTI reports only that one of the policemen who took her to jail told her that it was very possible that her child might end up in a state facility because of her long absence from her family. That was the sum total of MTI’s coverage of the “circumstances” under which her earlier testimony was made.
At the trial there was also a reporter from Népszava who filed a report that appeared on the newspaper’s Internet site at 2:58 p.m. Here we find many new details, some startling. Éva H. claimed that the prosecution referenced several dates in the indictment that preceded her working relationship with Miklós Hagyó. She also said that originally there was no talk of her being remanded but that Mária Szívós, one of Fidesz’s newly appointed members of the Constitutional Court, ruled otherwise. (One must wonder whether there is any connection between the two events.)
Éva H. claimed that “because of [her] religion there was a weekly inspection of her cell … they made [negative] remarks about her books, they poured garbage in the middle of the cell that included [her] personal belongings and told [her]: ‘clean it up, Jew!'” Apparently they told her that if her rabbi keeps visiting her they will not be able to save her from “falling out of her bed and hurting herself.” She also claimed that the doctors in the jail tried to drug her. She talked about Rivotril, a drug used primarily for the control of epilepsy but also effective as a sedative. According to Éva H. there were times when it was 59°C (130°F) in the 6x6m cell housing four women.
She was taken to her interrogation sessions in irons as if she were a murderer. These shackles caused sores on her arms and legs. Once she actually fell and hit her head on the curb. When she complained to the policeman in charge, he told her to shut up because otherwise he will say that Éva H. attacked him and in that case he is allowed to shoot her. During her three months in jail she lost 26 kilograms.
At the end of her testimony Éva H. read the last letter of her since deceased father that he wrote to her while she was in jail. “A number of the accused and their lawyers cried.” The lawyer for Éva H. is Péter Bárándy, former minister of justice and one of the founding members of Gordon Bajnai’s Haza és Haladás (Country and Progress).
Two reporters and two radically different reports on the same testimony.