One of many of Fidesz-inspired show trials: The Hagyó case

It was almost three years ago that I wrote about the infamous Hagyó affair. Miklós Hagyó, a wealthy businessman and an MSZP politician, was  one of the deputy mayors of the city between 2006 and 2010. Among his duties was the supervision of the business practices of the Budapest Transit Authority (BKV). The Transit Authority was a badly managed, mammoth organization with enormous losses.

In March 2010 came a bombshell. Zsolt Balogh, one of the many CEOs of BKV, said on HírTV that he, as the newly appointed head of BKV, paid a courtesy visit to Hagyó, who right on the spot instructed him to hand over 40 million forints. Balogh obliged, and the next day he brought the money to the deputy mayor in a box originally designed as packaging for a Nokia telephone. This Nokia box has since become synonymous with the all-pervading corruption that allegedly characterized the MSZP-SZDSZ coalition during the premiership of Ferenc Gyurcsány.

Just for the record, I would like to quote my own words from a September 2012 post titled “A botched-up show trial in Hungary”:

At this point I said to myself: something is wrong here. There is no way that someone, especially an experienced crook, would demand money from a man he doesn’t know from Adam. During their very first encounter. Hagyó tried to clear his name but couldn’t. In late May, right after Hagyó lost his parliamentary seat due to the change of government, he was arrested. Obviously, the Hungarian prosecutors didn’t share my doubts.

Hagyó spent nine months in jail and several months in a prison hospital. After losing 26 kg, he was sent home to recuperate under house arrest. Two and a half years of investigation revealed very little. Prosecutors, for example, hoped to prove that the millions Hagyó allegedly extorted from Balogh ended up in MSZP’s coffers. But evidence was lacking. They also wanted to build a case of bribery but couldn’t. Eventually they had to settle on the good old charge of breach of fiduciary responsibility for fifteen of the sixteen accused in the wider case. The sole exception was Hagyó, who was charged with extortion.

The Hagyó trial was an important political weapon for Fidesz, and it was the first case that was transferred from Budapest to Kecskemét by Tünde Handó, head of the National Judicial Office. The alleged rationale for the change of venue was to speed up the trial. In truth, Handó, a Fidesz appointee and wife of the important Fidesz politician József Szájer, was looking for an accommodating judge.

Soon after the trial began, in September 2012, Attila Antal, another CEO of BKV who had given evidence against Hagyó, withdrew his original testimony. He told the court that while he was in jail he was ill and the police told him that he would be let go only if “he talks.” His testimony was faxed over to the prosecutor’s office page by page for them to inspect its contents and decide whether his testimony was satisfactory from the prosecution’s point of view. Antal’s revelation of pressure coming from the prosecutors was bad enough, but when Zsolt Balogh, a few days after Antal, told the court that the only reason he gave false testimony was because he was threatened with a jail term unless he came to the rescue of the prosecution, the case started to crumble. Balogh’s testimony was the only “evidence” of Hagyó’s guilt.

That didn’t prevent Fidesz from claiming two years later, in September 2014, just before the municipal election, that voting for István Tarlós’s opponent as mayor of Budapest “would mean the return of the Gyurcsány-era when millions stolen from BKV ended up in Nokia boxes.”

Civil Összefogás Fórum's billboard picturing Hagyó with Attila Mesterházy, Ferenc Gyurcsány, and Gordon Bajnai The caption reads: They don't deserve any more opportunity

Mklós Hagyó with Attila Mesterházy, Ferenc Gyurcsány, and Gordon Bajnai pictured as criminals in 2014. The caption reads: They don’t deserve any more opportunity

Miklós Hagyó was the victim of politics of the dirtiest kind. Of the Fidesz kind. A good legal study of the Hagyó case appeared in Galamus a year ago. According to the author, “the Hagyó trial will be taught in law schools as a sad example of political influence on the judiciary.” Reading some of the details that came to light during the long trial shows that there was a conspiracy among certain Fidesz politicians and the prosecutors “to create a case.” Those who were ready to cooperate later received well-paid jobs “under the wings of the new municipal administration” of István Tarlós. Policemen active in the “investigation” received better jobs, while the judge who automatically renewed Hagyó’s jail term was appointed a member of the constitutional court. The prosecutor who lent his name to the charges received a high decoration from the president of the country. Viktor Orbán was obviously grateful for the assistance.

The details that emerged are fascinating. For example, the prosecution issued an indictment before they had investigated the origin of the 30 million forints Zsolt Balogh allegedly handed over to Hagyó in 2008 and 2009. According to Balogh’s original and later withdrawn testimony, the money came from Márk Lazarovits, CEO of Synergon Informatikai Kft. in gratitude for a contract with BKV. The prosecution went ahead with the case without ever attempting to check the veracity of Balogh’s claim.

During the trial, after Balogh withdrew his testimony, the judge asked the prosecutors about the state of the investigation of Synergon as the possible source of the bribe. Of course, there was no such investigation either because of the incompetence of the prosecutors or, as I assume, because they suspected that Balogh’s testimony was so far-fetched that it was most likely bogus. At this point the decision was made to open a new investigation, a highly irregular move. Interestingly, even during this renewed attempt to find evidence, the prosecutors didn’t question Lazarovits. I suspect the reason for this “oversight” was that they knew full well that Lazarovits didn’t hand over any money to Balogh. In fact, other witnesses alluded to the fact that the prosecution had tried to pressure Lazarovits earlier to testify against Hagyó. Obviously without success. Since the investigators found no evidence of any money transaction originating from Synergon, finally, on June 23, 2015, the prosecutor’s office announced the close of the investigation. The case had totally collapsed.

Zsuzsa Sándor, a retired judge, came to the conclusion that after these developments the prosecution should ask for the acquittal of Miklós Hagyó–that is, “if it is not a show trial.” And she added: “We will find out in September,” when apparently the case will at long last be decided.

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w36
Guest

Show trial I.
Preparation for show trial II, in the not so distant future.
Orban.

David Sade
Guest
I am still mesmerised about the incompetence of the EU, as the hijacking of the judiciary by the Orban regime is happening in front of them without any meaningful measure by them. Whilst the regime is fixated on initiating and carrying out show trials particularly before elections in order to discredit the opposition figures, the EU does nothing in order to force the regime to return to the ‘rule of law’. As an example, when the Orban regime brought about a new law (and rubber stamped by the FIDESZ rules parliament) for the compulsory retirement of judges over the age of 62, and although the EU reacted (too little and too late, as usual…) in their critique and ruling against Hungary, the vast majority of those experienced judges were lost for the judiciary system, as their places were filled by the ‘young titans’ of the FIDESZ machine, who were more than eager to carry out the orders coming from above in the institutionalised ‘witch hunt’. It is particularly disturbing that whilst the democratic western powers know about all the deeds of the regime, and they also read the Hungarian Spectrum, in all practical terms they failed to react to these… Read more »
Laszlo Sipos
Guest

I highly recommend the new book MADAM AMBASSADOR by Eleni Kounalakis which covers much of this.Note the rainbow clown in the picture which sends the message that only clowns support Gays.The situation now is much,much worse.We must also thank the American Arthur J.Finkelstein ( a homosexual Jew) for being behind much of this.He used to work for Jessie Helms before he was outed.He has become the Roy Cohn of our day.

qaz
Guest

@Laszlo Sipos
“We must also thank the American Arthur J.Finkelstein ( a homosexual Jew) for being behind much of this.He used to work for Jessie Helms before he was outed.He has become the Roy Cohn of our day.”

What is the point of emphasizing Mr. Finkelstein’s Jewishness and homosexuality?

Would you have referred to his religion and sexual orientation had he been Catholic and heterosexual? And instead of invoking Roy Cohn, would you have associated him with, let’s say: Adolph, Francis, Duke of Guise or Machiavelli?

Neither Mr. Finkelstein’s religion nor sexual orientation is relevant to any point you seem to be making. Except of course if, riding on the old canard, your aim is to stigmatize the Jews, the homosexuals (or the combination of both) for all of this world’s ills.

Your comment and bigotry are not only disgraceful, they are despicable. Your post should be withdrawn except if you are able (which is doubtful) to provide a coherent explanation as to the relevance of Mr. Finkelsein’s religion and/or sexual orientation to any rational line of argument.

Mambo Italiano
Guest

Right, Finkelstein is the reason why one shouldn’t listen to the “oy vey”ing of the Hungarian liberals, even behind Orban there is a gay Jew. Orban was put into his position only to blind us from the truth, that Hungary is still controlled by you know who. Nothing changes.

Member

Alert: we seem to be caught in a good-troll/bad-troll cross crossfire here on the Finkelstein thread. Caveat lector. The trolls’ mission is to create dissension and distraction. If we spar with them, we become their dupes and accomplices. It always starts with a posting that seems to have relevance and sympathy to the democratic cause — and then it quickly degenerates into bickering and homilies and to-quoquing about clichés and trivia.

exTor
Guest

Does that make you a Jobbik szarzsák, MI?

MAGYARKOZÓ

Laszlo Sipos
Guest

OMG.I am proud to be a liberal Democrat and dual citizen.There is almost NO place online where I can express my views without being attacked.I stopped trying to teach English to Hungarians after a decade of being insulted.Every person deserves to be heard.I read Eva’s posts because they are written well and researched.There is NO other site which has a balanced view of what is going on in Hungary.

Laszlo Sipos
Guest

He gets paid to work for a government which abuses Jews and Gays daily in state media and denying funding for programs,backed up by laws they pass to do so.When he worked for Jessie Helms he promoted hatred against minorities until he was outed and then he married his male companion,but his politics did not change.He is the Roy Cohn of our day.If you live here in Hungary and speak Hungarian,the amount of propoganda hurled at people daily is so much like that in the US by the Right-wing.If not for EU membership we would be Russia.

Laszlo Sipos
Guest

Thanks for attacking me which I am so used to here in Hungary.I am a liberal Democrat who supports Pride and various Jewish organizations which the Hungarian government does not.Like Roy Cohn,Finkelstein and people like him who get paid to demonize their own kind deserve to be called on it.I do not think you live here in Hungary or you would know what the situation is like for minorities.It is the luxury of living in the West which makes people naive.I am a dual citizen so I live in both places and see a little bit more of what it is like.Read Larry Kramer for example as someone I respect.Larrry is a proud Gay Jew.Note that I wrote that Finkelstein is “homosexual” which is an outdated word conservatives use..He does does deserve to be called Gay.

Unike many who write posts and attack those who do not agree with them,I use my real name and a real picture on Facebook.I stand behind my posts and challenge those who do not agree cite their sources,like Eva does.

Guest

I’ve been thinking on similar lines:

What motivates people like Finkelstein, a member of two minorities clearly mistreated in Hungary (and other places …) to work for those right wing organisations/governments?
I don’t get it – is he in it just for the money or is something wrong with him?

exTor
Guest
Lest you think (erroneously) that I was one who ‘attacked’ –your word– you, recheck my post, to which you appended your post of aggrievance. I will defend qaz, who (as did I) evidently mistakenly interpreted your post as being antisemitic and homophobic. You were the problem, Laszlo Sipos. You wrote with a lack of clarity. At least two people, qaz and I, thought along similar lines. With complexities of issues involved, it behooves a correspond to be as clearly focused as possible. Write the piece on a separate file, grab a coffee, sit back and reread. It may not sound so good on the second goround. When the piece is ‘good to go’, transfer it to Hungarian Spectrum. Good to hear that you’re a libdem, Laszlo Sipos. That’s a start. I have no idea to whom you’re alluding when you talk about “a decade of being insulted”, however if the attackers are to the right of you, then take pride. Contrary to what you say, not “Every person deserves to be heard.” I would attempt to shut down murderous rightwingers (such as the KKK when it was violently active in the US) before they could get into motion. Your ‘point’… Read more »
scottttttttt
Guest

Habony is king and so is Orban. The immigration issue was a jackpot, Fidesz is getting more and more popular. It’s the biggest fun: the more the leftists sympathize with the poor immigrants the more they reveal their true self: liberals hell-bent on selling out Hungary to blacks, jews, gipsies, gays and the like. They just don’t care about ordinary white Hungarians.

The left-wing is finished. Orban is here to stay.

http://444.hu/2015/07/07/habony-arpad-mennybe-megy-orban-viktornal-a-bevandorlas-kampannyal/

kabat
Guest

I recommend this on Russia, with a lot of parallels to Hungary/Orban.

Just like Putin, Orban doesn’t fear the West, how could he, he only feels deep contempt.

People who dream about the stronger EU here are deluding themselves, the world doesn’t work like that. Orban and Putin are winning.

http://www.interpretermag.com/russia-has-reached-its-own-very-different-end-of-history-and-west-has-failed-to-recognize-this-pavlova-says/

kabat2
Guest

Sending it again:

I recommend this on Russia, with a lot of parallels to Hungary/Orban.

Just like Putin, Orban doesn’t fear the West, how could he, he only feels deep contempt.

People who dream about the stronger EU here are deluding themselves, the world doesn’t work like that. Orban and Putin are winning.

http://www.interpretermag.com/russia-has-reached-its-own-very-different-end-of-history-and-west-has-failed-to-recognize-this-pavlova-says/

bimbi
Guest

Thank you, Eva, for writing about the Hagyo case. This miserable business is one of a series of cases brought against opposition-connected persons by a cynical government which has utterly corrupted the judicial process. Some 5 years of Mr. Hagyo’s life has been wasted by these proceedings yet apparently no one will be charged with bearing false testimony, i.e., that they lied in court, at the ‘direction’ of the government of course. One wonders how the Hungarian judiciary can ever climb out from underneath this weight of government-sponsored professional corruption… Nor should we forget that the architect of this disgraceful structure sits as a commissioner in the halls of the European Union – none other than the ex-minister of justice Tibor Navracsics (who now, in his role in charge of supervision of education in the EU tolerates and supports Hungary’s official position of apartheid in schools).

I hate to say it but for those who like to chastise the EU for non-intervention in Hungary ignore the fact that it is the job of the people of Hungary to remove these corrupt and corrupting Fidesz-KDNP bandits.

David Sade
Guest

“I hate to say it but for those who like to chastise the EU for non-intervention in Hungary ignore the fact that it is the job of the people of Hungary to remove these corrupt and corrupting Fidesz-KDNP bandits.”

» This statement sounds very logical in a DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY… But Hungary became a police-state where the very means by which the people of the country could decide their own fate have been taken away from them.

Hungary is not yet North Korea, but it is nearly the same as telling the North Korean people that it is their job to remove the dictator ruling them… The same way that they haven’t got the means to do it, the Hungarian people have left no channels even to voice their grievances. Those who follow the daily happenings in Hungary can testify that there is no day passes during which the regime doesn’t demonstrate their power over their own citizens…

bimbi
Guest

Dear Mr. Sade, I fully agree with your assessment of the political path taken by the Fidesz-KDNP governments in Hungary since 2010. What is striking to me is the haughty contempt with which the individual people in this sad country are being treated collectively. Look at the health care system, especially in the country away from Budapest. Look at the educational system now a repository for false history and the writings of Hungarian fascist sympathisers. Look at the personal enrichment of government politicians, epitomized by Mr. Lazar, “What’s wrong with being rich?” (Nothing, Mr. Lazar, if you can show us that your riches were not acquired through insider information, tax fraud or other methods of robbing the people.) However, it is both naive and lazy to suggest that a Hague Tribunal to Investigate Political Crimes in Hungary since 2010 ought to be set up to deal with the corrupt and even criminal actions of Mr. Orban and his helpers. (Alas, this is an often-voiced opinion in Hungary.) ‘Tain’t gonna happen.

Hungarians in Hungary have to find the answer but you are right, Mr. Orban and his advisers will not make that path an easy one.

David Sade
Guest
I wholeheartedly agree with you, but the sad facts are still that there are no tools left for the opposition or to any individual to stand up against the government actions. In reality there are no official forums where the citizen can air grievances, as this ‘natural right’ to turn to the Constitutional Court or even initiate a referendum has been taken away. The offices of ombudsmen were closed down with the single ombudsman who is also a servile crony of the regime. Orban is fully aware that there is no internal or external authority that can challenge his hold on power. In the country where nearly half of the population is below the poverty line, where most of the ‘smart’ and capable citizens left the country, there are no measurable forces that can stand up against the dictatorial rule of the FIDESZ… And if there anyone seem to be a threat, there are the show trials, the witch-hunt and many other means they are using to demolish those that have the courage to stand up to them. Therefore I don’t think that it is a naive thought from the Hungarians expecting the intervention of the EU, because short of… Read more »
petofi
Guest

So here’s the lineup: a confederacy of thieves, opposed by a quake-in-your-boots millions, and an opposition that can be bought off at the drop of a hat….some chance at removing the Great O!

Hungary…the first modern state to turn free men into slaves.
If this is a historical cycle, the turnaround can’t come soon enough.

Guest

This was not the only case of totally unfounded accusations against opponents of the current regime:
I remember the case of Agnes Heller and others who were accused of misusing money, lately the NGOs where it also seems the prosecution couldn’t find anything – though they surely tried!
http://www.politics.hu/20150701/prosecution-finds-no-irregularities-at-ngos-supported-by-norway-civil-fund/

Does someone have/know a list of these politically motivated cases that came to nothing or as we say in German: Alles im Sande verlaufen?

OT:

Btw politics.hu is back – seems it was under a DDOS attack by Russian hackers?

exTor
Guest

http://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-foreign-desk/78/play

Just listened to an English-language half-hour radio show entitled Orbán’s Hungary broadcast by Monocle Radio [out of London, England] and picked up by CBC [Toronto].

Hungarians Ágnes Kövér and Péter Krekó provided opinions re Fidesz and Jobbik. Additionally, George Szirtes, who translated Satantango by László Krasznahorkai, provides his view that the allegorical debut novel can be read “without any great effort” with the current Fideszed Hungary in mind.

Each interviewee [ÁK & PK] is pessimistic –Kövér moreso– about Hungary’s prospects in the coming decade, about the ability to undo Orbán’s damage to the nation. Sobering thoughts about what may be for Hungary.

MAGYARKOZÓ

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