Antal Rogán’s decision to sue might have backfired

In April of 2015 Antal Rogán, today one of the most important members of the Orbán government, sued Péter Juhász of Együtt because Juhász had called him a criminal in connection with his real estate dealings while he was mayor of District V in Budapest. District V constitutes the heart of Budapest, where perhaps the most valuable pieces of real estate can be found. The opportunities for corruption in city halls are numerous, especially when a great number of buildings are still owned by the municipality. That was the case in District V. Over Rogán’s eight years in office, 800 units–apartments as well as storefronts–were sold to private individuals.

According to a city ordinance, the tenant of a property owned by the municipality has the right to purchase the rented property at a reduced price if the city decides to sell. Rogán and his fellow city politicians apparently devised a scheme to jack up the rents so high that the tenants, who had the right of first refusal, were forced to leave the premises for financial reasons. Then came a “friend” who rented the place for a couple of months, after which he could buy the property at a 30% discount to the market value. Often Rogán allowed further illegal cuts in the purchase price, with some individuals acquiring valuable pieces of property at half price. A few months later the new owner sold the property for twice his purchase price. The assumption is that all these “good offices” on the part of the mayor and other district officials cost money, which went straight into the pockets of the facilitators, including Rogán himself, whose visible enrichment has been the talk of the country for a number of years.

One case especially aroused interest because it involved a well-known criminal, Tamás Portik, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence for his role in instigating several murders. In 2014 it came to light that Portik’s common-law-wife or girlfriend, Marianne Pápa, who also happened to be the aunt-by-marriage of Árpád Habony, the mysterious advisor of Viktor Orbán, with the help of Portik managed to get a 212 m² storefront for 52 million forints, which they subsequently sold for 102 million, its fair market value. It was at this point that Juhász, who was by then a member of the city council of District V and therefore had access to the relevant documents, called Rogán a criminal who received kickbacks from well-known underworld characters.

A month after Juhász’s accusation, in January 2015, Rogán sued Juhász for 1 million forints by way of compensation and demanded a statement from him admitting that he had “falsely stated that during the mayoralty of Antal Rogán the municipality had any business dealings with Tamás Portik or with any person or company connected with him.” The court case got underway on April 16, but Antal Rogán didn’t show. I should add that by that time Juhász had filed several complaints in connection with the real estate deals and an investigation was underway. Juhász’s lawyer asked the judge to summon Portik to give evidence because Portik, on several occasions during his own trial, had testified that he knew Rogán and that Rogán was lying when he claimed otherwise. Not surprisingly, Rogán’s lawyer objected, but to no avail. The judge decided to call Portik to testify.

The court appearance was scheduled for yesterday, June 17. Rogán and his lawyer were not happy. They wanted to disqualify the judge because “the case is dragging on too long.” Moreover, Rogán expressed his dissatisfaction that the judge had set the date of the next court appearance without consulting him first and that, as a result, he cannot face his accuser. Once it became known that Rogán was refusing to appear in court, now for the second time, the opposition media indicated that Rogán for one reason or another doesn’t want to face Portik. As it turned out, he had every reason to avoid him. Even the restrained and cautious Népszabadság wrote in an editorial that Portik’s description of his relationship with Rogán was realistic. Yes, we can doubt the veracity of Portik, but can we believe Rogán? What about Rogán’s inexplicable enrichment? Portik’s testimony was devastating, the paper claimed.

The rules and regulations concerning the testimony of a witness are roughly the same as in the United States. If a witness is later found to have lied under oath, he can be charged with the crime of perjury. Therefore, Juhász argues, Portik’s testimony should be taken seriously.

From the testimony it became clear that Portik was well acquainted with the way Rogán’s scheme worked. He was familiar with the property Árpád Habony’s aunt acquired, and he said he was involved in the transaction as a kind of go-between. Allegedly, Rogán urgently needed 10 million forints, and because both “Árpi and Marianne” understood that Portik knew Rogán, they asked him to deliver the amount in euros. Portik described the exact location of the Fidesz office where he handed the money to Rogán. Apparently, Rogán later complained that the money he received wasn’t quite enough, at which point “Marianne remarked that, as it is, Tóni is far too expensive.” That apparently wasn’t the only encounter between Rogán and Portik. They were both guests of honor at the opening of Nobu, Andy Vajna’s restaurant in the Kempinsky Hotel in Budapest.

Péter Juhász with his lawyer and Portik in the courtroom

Péter Juhász with his lawyer and Portik in the courtroom

Rogán’s lawyer was in trouble, and his only strategy was to rely on a 2008 conversation between Sándor Laborc, head of the National Security Office, and Portik. Portik had approached him to complain about right-wing elements in the police force who were badgering him to hand over incriminating information about leading members of MSZP. Portik at this point was very worried about a Fidesz win in the 2010 election and therefore offered to find dirt on men in the service of Fidesz, stressing during the conversation his allegiance to MSZP. Rogán’s lawyer kept returning to this conversation, trying to prove that Portik’s story had to be sheer fabrication because, given his strong commitment to the left, he couldn’t have had highly-placed Fidesz friends. A feeble argument.

The government mouthpiece Magyar Idők was also in trouble when it came to discrediting Portik’s testimony. It claimed that Portik didn’t remember the details of his meeting with Rogán, which was simply not true. The paper also maintained that Portik contradicted himself because he testified that he had never given any money to a Fidesz politician when, in fact, he had. But was that a contradiction? Of course not. Surely, there is a difference between giving your own money to a person and delivering somebody else’s money.

888.hu invoked the specter of communism. Portik, an ordinary criminal, is for them “one of the last undercover agents” of the Kádár regime, who has been engaged in dirty political work against Fidesz ever since 1990. Liberal journalists hate the leading Fidesz politicians so much that they are ready to use a feared criminal to discredit the government.

On the other hand, Magyar Nemzet, nowadays a conservative opposition paper, took Portik’s testimony seriously. “If one tenth of what we have heard from Portik is true, Rogán must go,” László Szemán wrote in an editorial. As the title of the piece indicates, Orbán has no choice. He must let him go. The dominoes are falling.

June 18, 2016
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Member

“If one tenth of what we have heard from Portik is true, Rogán must go,” László Szemán wrote in an editorial. “?
Made me laugh. How many times we heard “if is true” Lazar, Matolcsy, Rogan, Kover, Orban, etc. “has to go”? No one is going anywhere. Orban and his buddies will not be moved because such trivial matters as corruption or truth…

petofi
Guest

Orban has long ago gotten his. He’s now in it to administer maximum pain to the populace. In the meantime, his hangers on–Rogan, Matolcsy, Lazar et. al– are in it for the cash Vickie allows to fall off the table to his lilliputians…

Guest

Re: ‘truth’ and its quest

It’s been hunted for millennia by human beings and that includes those in Viktor’s land. Apparently very difficult to catch as all we see are examples of the denial of objective truth.
Assessments of life in the country by a ruling elite are just how you ‘look at things’. That’s it. And an electorate being made blind as bats who are made to think upside down. Things are very very awry in Magyardom.

Wondercat
Guest

Remarkable image, Prof Balogh. Please comment on the courtroom personnel. Are Hungarian courts now staffed by balaclava’ed, gun-carrying muscle-builders? What ever is going on there?

Guest
London Calling! Yes. You are correct in denigrating the presence of ‘terrorist’ uniforms in court. They are clearly ‘TEK’ so presumably they are there to send a message? In English courts the presence of any member of the police during witness testimony is forbidden – lest by ‘association’ it sends a message to the jury that may discredit the witness. Terrorist police could only be employed outside the building. If, for example, a witness has to come from jail to give testimony for or against a defendant, then he is released into the witness box without any form of constraint lest his testimony is ‘unfairly’ tainted with negative connotations that the jury might make. The fact that it is a criminal – often giving a ‘character reference’ or helping the (government) prosecution – (and possibly full of lies!) – they must still have their testimony presented properly. Prison guards won’t be far away – but not in jury view – and the courtroom door will be discreetly locked without ANYONE knowing! Prisoners know it’s a good day out for them and they also know that it’s a good opportunity to try and escape. Even a good ol’ fashion English copper… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Compare your description with how the Russians presented Khodorofsky….in a cage, as if he was a mass murderer. Nice
examples Vickie has picked to emulate…

webber
Guest

Portik is a hardcore criminal. He was convicted of murder at a very young age (see the film I posted below)
I, too, don’t like seeing the hoods, but there might be a good reason to protect the identity of guards in this case. Portik has friends outside.

I say that, and I personally am convinced that Portik is innocent of this crime.

Ron
Guest

It is normal in case of convicted criminals, high fly risks or considered terrorists.

Here a few images of other cases:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3325459/British-extremists-appear-court-surrounded-machinegun-toting-guards-caught-Hungary-despite-banned-leaving-UK.html

In case of immigrants escort by police officer:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-hungary-court-insight-idUSKCN0RT1CN20150929

Or sometimes they use cuffs on hands and feet and make it difficult to move.
http://o2hir.hu/hirek/friss/29847

Guest

You’ve missed the point, Ron.

We’re talking about defendents inside the courtroom.

During a recent case where a very large cache of arms were seized the defendents attended court only after the whole area around the old Bailey was closed off and ‘secured’ by armed police.

This went on for months and caused much disruption – sometimes it seemed like the whole of the Farringdon area was closed off – but the police never entered the courtroom like the TEK in Eva’s post

Guest

Or maybe I did!

Your quoting of English newspapers threw me.

They are Hungarian cases – I realised.

Apologies!

Guest

Just a little ‘codicil’!

Photography is not allowed in any British court so you’d never see a genuine picture like Eva’s.

Whenever there’s a newsworthy courtcase, the media have to rely on artists impressions of the courtroom and defendents.

Sometimes a ‘designated’ artist is allowed a certain vantage point sometimes not.

Sometimes the artist is not allowed to sketch in court at all and has to rely on memory.

I have sat in the public gallery after giving evidence and started to take notes .

The court official pounced on me before pen could touch paper – not even note taking is allowed here.

So definitely no photography!

If you were ever caught it would be a serious case of contempt of court.

PALIKA
Guest

Taking notes by members of the public in English Courts was the subject of a recent case when Judge stopped it. The Court of Appeal did not agree with the idea of a blanket ban.

tappanch
Guest

Why did oligarch Speder fell out of Orban’s grace?

In short, because of the independent spirit of the portal Speder owns. Among others, Index.hu dared to disclose that Orban’s son had been forced out of his Ugandan ‘religious experience’ by TEK (Orban’s public-funded “anti-terror” body guard unit) using taxpayers’ money.

Speder’s media empire that Fidesz wants to take over:

http://img8.hvg.hu/image.aspx?id=3f786685-8b0c-4ae6-86d9-3aec31a2ebf0&view=7fcefbf8-ac48-4ee6-aef5-32203afa118c

This and other attempts to create a 99% pro-Fidesz environment in the mass media before the next election:

http://hvg.hu/itthon/201625__speder_zoltan__leszamolas__junius_idusa__apak_keresztje

webber
Guest

Portik’s criminal career started very young. He is one of the young prisoners who appears in the documentary film “Bebukottak,” about life in a penitentiary in communist Hungary. The film won first prize at Torino in 1985. The film is harrowing, but well worth watching:

webber
Guest

P.S. After you watch that film, just try to tell me Portik was a communist informer. They had nothing on him – they couldn’t possibly have gotten him to inform for them. He took his time in prison, again and again. He is a pure criminal – he’d die before he’d rat on a fellow gangster (and he’d have been killed if he had). He’ll testify all you want against Rógan – who is not a gangster, but a representative of authority (criminals hate authority) and who screwed Portik over. Portik is guilty as hell, but not of the crime he has been prosecuted for.
The same omerta goes for Habony, btw. There will be no files on him.
If I were Interior Min. Pintér, I’d be worried about Habony and his friends.

webber
Guest

This is the young Portik in the film:
comment image

manusz3
Guest

Did you imply that Habony was a hard-core criminal like Portik? I can imagine that but somehow it did not occur to me. I mean Habony is a criminal for sure (given what he’s been doing in the last at least 6 years), but Portik also apparently grew up like one and was socialized in the prison.

Habony’s background is of course still misterious and even the origins of his connection to Orban is unclear (according to the legends Tamas Deutsch recommended him to Orban, but how did Deutsch get to know him?).

Omerta has always been part of Fidesz’ operations, in fact it is one of its core values. A real Fidesznik must under any circumstances comply.

But Portik’s omerta is psychologically different, it’s the omerta of self conscious criminal. Is Habony not just one top-tier Fidesznik who was selected for total reliability?

webber
Guest

Yes, I am saying Habony is a hard-core criminal. He is an associate of Portik’s, just more lucky than Portik.
Habony was born in utter poverty in Pest. He “rose in ranks” through a certain martial-arts club.
His background is very clear to pesti people who knew him back when. The press can’t find anything because he came from nothing, literally. Nobody in his family was prominent. His father wasn’t even around for him. No university. No high school. Straight from the streets to wealth through olajszőkítés – and the statute of limitations has passed for that. His extended family and connections are deep in the underworld. Naturally he has always avoided the press. Portik just had the bad (or good), luck to be filmed when he was in prison for manslaughter.
Habony has nothing like that.
Habony has just the one conviction that the press has uncovered – the beating of that pensioner.
Otherwise there is nothing on him.

webber
Guest

P.S. there is one very prominent member of Fidesz who made a lot in the olaj szőkítés – a Minister, in fact.
That one you should know. There is your connection.
He should watch his back.

pappp
Guest

Interesting. I’m not sure said minister (I’m not sure he is a member of Fidesz though) is very much worried. I heard about interesting rumors about people buried alive and suchlike. He has the loyalty of the entire secret services establishment (Kövér apparently lost his influence and Lazar is also struggling), I think our minister sleeps very well.

webber
Guest

You have a point.

PALIKA
Guest
Despite Charlie’s reservations, the Judge in this case is doing rather well. The account of the proceedings shows the appropriate level of judicial independence and impartiality. What happens in an English criminal trial as opposed a defamation trial which this is, has little relevance. Police officers, in uniform or in plain cloths are an inevitable feature of an English Criminal Trial. They appear as witnesses and after they have given their evidence cannot leave the court room except with the permission of the Judge. Prisoners when they give evidence are not shackled but they leave the dock or enter the court accompanied by a prison guard usually these days from a private security firm. The guard stays with the prisoner throughout his testimony which is given from the witness box The locking of the court room door is very rarely, if ever, done since that could amount to a denial of public access to the court. The published picture is decidedly odd and it would be interesting if Eva could explain the context. Gratifyingly however Rogan seems to be in trouble. The abuse of the right to buy scheme on this scale is breathtaking. When Margaret Thatcher introduced the scheme… Read more »
Guest

“The locking of the court room door is very rarely, if ever, done since that could amount to a denial of public access to the court.”

I have been present in court proceedings where this was done.

During my career I have attended many many many courts.

I speak with much experience of English court procedure.

Guest

“Even if it wasn’t a jury trial (?) – this can only happen in a Commocracy.”

I suggest you read me properly.

Guest

Presumably you are very experienced with the ‘witness protection ‘ process?

PALIKA
Guest

” Rarely if ever” or sometimes? The practice in this regard varies from place to place and from time to time.

What is your view therefore of the competence and conduct of the Judge in the Rogan trial?

Guest

I suggest you learn to use English words with the precision available – there are enough of them.

To then wriggle out of your statement using your own imprecision says it all.

You are Persona Non-Reada – except where you directly refer to me.

I don’t read your pious rubbish usually – bleating Hungarian.

webber
Guest

Charlie and Palika – perhaps you two could lay off one another for a time? The spat is not edifying. I know it’s a bit rich of me to say that – since I too have had feuds here. Still, I’m saying it.

PALIKA
Guest

Unfortunately the guy is just daft. He indulges in anti Hungarian abuse and gibes.

How often are the English Criminal Court doors locked when a prisoner gives evidence? Big issue!

Apparently the guy is a legal expert. What is the source of his experience? As a Judge, juror, barrister, solicitor, court staff, prison officer, court usher, professional witness or repeat offender?
I asked what he thinks of the Judge in the Rogan case? I asked Eva for more detail about the picture she published because it is very worrying and we deserve an explanation.

I am in no feud despite being repeatedly abused.

webber
Guest

“I asked Eva for more detail about the picture she published…”
So you are Wondercat, too? Wondercat is the one who asked, not Palika.
How many monikers are you using, and is one of them Pappp?

webber
Guest

P.S. You write very well. As if you were raised in Britain, or spent a very long time there. Something like G. Schöpflin.

PALIKA
Guest

Gyuri writes better than I ever could. He is very clever and articulate. I do not agree with his career choice after he retired as a professor.

webber
Guest

“Gyuri” – then you know him. I do not agree with much that he has written or said since, roughly, 1996.
He is very fluent, yes.

webber
Guest

I meant fluent in the sense of writing well, not in the sense of being a native speaker.

webber
Guest
Guest

Nice piece.

This I think would teach somebody pretty quickly on the craft of writing and …….efficiently crystallizing the essence of thinking as well.

‘ Pray state, this day, on one side of a sheet of paper, how the Royal navy is being adapted to meet the conditions of modern warfare’… Winston C

Never forgot that one when I saw that.

PALIKA
Guest

No Eva, my family never moved to the UK. They stayed to enjoy the fun provided by the Kadar regime

petofi
Guest

One cannot be “very” fluent.

One is either fluent, or not.

webber
Guest

Wrong, petofi old boy,
One can be “very fluent,” and “not very fluent.”
Look at the first sentence on this page of an English test:
http://www.englishdaily626.com/miscellaneous.php?086

English is flexible.

PALIKA
Guest

See my message at 5.12am.
Wondercat asked her earlier.

webber
Guest

I see – and apologize.

webber
Guest

“I do not recall having seen any court case concerning those corrupt acquisitions.” Absolutely corrupt acquisitions, I agree – and something should be done – but they were, sadly, legal acquisitions at the time. That is, they were in accordance with the law. It would take a lot of legislation to straighten this out – but it could be done if those in power wanted to do it. People would not go to prison (what they did was legal then), but property could be restored to its private owners.

By contrast, what Rógan is accused of doing is illegal. An official of the state has broken the law. He could be and should be prosecuted now.
That is a significant difference.

Anyway, I very much doubt Fidesz will do a damned thing to restore properties to their pre-communist owners. Orbán himse was the recipient of one such property in Váci utca.

And let’s recall that Fidesz has repeatedly blocked lustration. They have not done a thing to uncover what happened under Kádár.

PALIKA
Guest
The sale of state assets were in many cases corrupt. The valuations were bent and the choice of buyers was to favour friends or those who paid the biggest bribes. There was nothing lawful in that process and it did not even require legislation to deal with it, just the will was missing. The post WW2 confiscation of privately owned homes resulted in distributing them to the comrades. The post 1989 sell off consolidated their ownership in their hands. If it was lawful, which I doubt, the law should have been changed by Dr Antal’s Government to make such pilfering impossible. The idea that the homes lived in by the members of the ancien regime should be restored to their rightful owners was not on the agenda of Dr Antal’s government. Neither was the restoration in specie of the property confiscated from them and instead they were offerred nearly worthless vouchers. The watershed was allowed to pass without any attempt to confront the past. Hungary is the way it is because it never confronted the past. The most recent attempt was the ludicrous trial of Comrade Biszku. I expect that the sale of a house owned publicly to the occupier… Read more »
webber
Guest
“The transactions as described are clearly unlawful and the perpetrators should be held to account. It seems to be happening on this occasion.” What makes you say that?? If we knew one another personally, I would offer to bet you any sum you like that nothing will happen to Rogán in the end. Portik gave his testimony. End of story. Portik himself said he has nothing in writing and that the hand off was not recorded. So, it’s just the word of a convicted criminal against a politician sitting in office who showed what he thought about the case by ignoring the summons and going off to France to enjoy the football instead of face his accuser in court. If you really think Rogán will even be investigated for this by the state prosecutor, much less prosecuted, you really have not been paying attention to what is going on in Hungary. More than enough information came out before Portik’s testimony to justify investigation and prosecution – just the prices people paid for property, compared with the market value, was enough to start an official investigation by Prosecutor Polt’s office. What happened? Nothing. Rogán just lost his slander case. That is… Read more »
PALIKA
Guest

Webber, it will probably turn out as you say. Yet losing a libel case is no great accolade and not good for ones career as Oscar Wilde found out to his cost when he started an unsuccessful criminal libel prosecution against the Earl of Queensbury.

webber
Guest

That was a different time, and a country with different mores.
Fidesz people have shrugged of so many accusations of corruption now.

petofi
Guest

Don’t be silly. You’re comparing 19th century England to 21st century Hungary.
I suggest that the monstrous mockery that attends any and all state actions in Hungary…would celebrate a useless and ineffectual legal proceeding against an annointed one–

webber
Guest

They will start murdering one another, sooner or later, mark my words.

Istvan
Guest
What Eva describes in detail relating to Antal Rogán’s land and property deals within Budapest was also done in numerous other former “workers states.” For example the Bulgarian construction Mafia sent roses to the current Prime Minister as a death threat because he wiped out a big construction deal. The deal involved the illegal seizure of protected sand dunes on the country’s Black Sea coast was sold without a tender based on an older law that was in force until 2010. The law technically does not provide any way of selling State land without tenders but it said it allowed procedures that started before 2010 to be completed under the older law. Loopholes were created in the transition process in virtually all the former communist nations that allowed for various forms of land seizures by the elite in conjunction with various Mafia types, Hungary is not alone in that reality. There were numerous shock therapy ultra free market economists who looked the other way as this process unfolded particularly those at the University of Chicago with the economist Jeffrey Sachs leading the movement for breakneck speed privatizations in Russia and Central Europe. In the Ukraine the interface between politicians and… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

French “Police launch investigation after Hungarian fans ‘caught performing Nazi salutes’ before Iceland game ”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/police-launch-investigation-after-hungarian-8229466

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