Why is the work of prosecution questionable?
The BKV-case is a good example of how successfully can the prosecution, the police and the court work together when the political interest requires so. One of the most important roles was performed by prosecutor Szabadváriné Dr., the chief of the Department of Special Investigation. It can be hardly considered to be correct that the first highly illegal arrests and interrogations in relation with the investigation took place with her approval – just as the fact that later she was awarded for this by Tarlós. Not to mention that the charges related to the Nokia-boxes were dealt with unexceptional attention and priority – often ignoring the related processes. The investigation in the case of the well indicated bribery was launched after Balogh unsaid his testimony. Until that time it was considered as a charge supported by one single person’s statements.
Who did initiate the prosecution in the BKV-case?
The scandal around the severance pays paid by BKV broke in 2009, not much before the parliamentary elections. The Fidesz, of course, abused the situation and they were continuously attacking the coalition leading the capital. The first charges were made by the future lord mayor as the representative of the party. István Tarlós turned to the prosecutor’s office in connection with the above mentioned severance pays on July 29, 2015.
Who was responsible for the BKV-case at the Prosecutor’s Office?
Less than a week after Tarlós turned to the Prosecutor’s Office, as of August 5, 2009 the shaping BKV-case was handled with priority by the Budapest High Prosecution Office. As the chief the Department of Special Investigation Katalin Vámos dr. Szabadváriné Dr. took the responsibility for the case. As a matter of fact, the investigation of the case took place under her prosecutor supervision. Interestingly, this information was revealed accidentally only one year later in an announcement issued in February – only then was the MTI informed by the High Prosecution Office that the investigations related with the transport company were pronounced a special investigation half a year ago. Until this time nobody was aware of the fact that the case was in Szabadváriné’s hands. However, in winter of 2010 this information was overlooked somehow by the journalists being hungry for the scandals – by that time the press was full of the arrests of the ones involved in the BKV-case and their statements leaked.
Where could we meet Katalin Vámos dr. Szabadváriné Dr.’s name earlier?
Her name appears on the internet relatively rarely. Searching for either Ottóné Szabadvári or her maiden name, Katalin Vámos no related entries can be found introducing her career. Few bits of information can be found about her previous prosecutory work. It is for sure that in 2004 she represented prosecution in the Sutka-case, in Csík Rita’s, journalist for Népszava’s, case accused with breach of state secrets. By the way, after this case Hungary was negatively criticized at an international level for the overwhelming lawsuits brought against journalists. Also, Szabadváriné represented prosecution in the case of the director drowning a kitten. Furthermore, she made the official statements on the highly controversial UD Ltd.-case, where she announced that the department rejected the complaint submitted by the former chief director of the Office of the National Security Council.
What was Szabadváriné’s exact role in the progress of the BKV-case?
She was responsible for the initial phase of the BKV-case as being the chief of the department responsible for about the 90 percent of the special investigations in the capital in the summer of 2009. On May 17, 2010 she signed the request for Miklós Hagyó’s pre-trial detention as the chief of the Department of Special and Economic Investigations of Budapest High Prosecution Office.
Did Szabadváriné and her colleagues indicate the pre-trial detentions related to the BKV-case?
On 7th January, the BRFK initiated the Eleonóra Szalainé Szilágyi’s, director of the Department of Human Resources of BKV’s, pre-trial detention. As per process the police could keep the woman in for three days. Again, the support of the prosecution became necessary, who ordered Szalainé’s pre-trial detention. Also, Szabadváriné’s colleagues also initiate the arrest of the rest of the accused involved in the BKV-suit. Furthermore, Szabadváriné herself signed the related documents for Éva Horváth, Ottó Lelovics and the main victim, Miklós Hagyó.
Does it mean that the interrogation process started with Szabadváriné’s approval?
Yes, it does. With Szabadváriné’s approval the arrests and interrogations began in January, 2010. Later, during the court procedures it turned out that they proceeded violating the related law many times. Many of the accused and witnesses reported that they made their statements under coercion. They were threatened that in case they were unwilling to state against their superiors or Hagyó they would not been released. The same approach was taken by the police during the investigations of other cases when they expected statements against Hagyó. What is more, not only the statements made by the accused were influenced but also the ones made by the witnesses. This approach resulted finally in contradictory police reports, patchwork testimonies, incorrect dating, lost and other documents suspicious of falsification. Thanks to Szabadváriné’s signature the authority threatened and humiliated the ones involved in the case, treating them unlawfully. (See more in the box “Coercion”)
Did Szabadváriné play a role in the cases of more company in Budapest?
On August 19, 2009, István Tarlós turned to the prosecutor’s office related to abuse took place at more companies in Budapest. He stated that in the near future the Fidesz would turn to the prosecutor’s office in more waves. He mentioned five actual cases, and then he added: “probably it is not the end yet”, implying that he expected actions on the other Budapest public utilities. He also talked about Éva Horváth’s being suspicious of double employment. Furthermore, he referred to “mutyi” (go shares) in connection with one of Hagyó’s close colleagues, and he talked about payments, premium, public fund and the unnecessary consulting agreements: “since February, 2007 with all the premiums, rewards and benefits É.H. was paid twenty-three million and six hundred thousand forints. I guess it can be hardly assumed that É.H., as Miklós Hagyó’s closest colleague arranged the things at BKV behind the Deputy Lord Mayor” – he said. (It is useful to remember his sentences and the exact amount mentioned here to the content of the box titled “The winners”.)
Were Tarlós’s “expectations” met?
I thing, yes they were. In 2010, the public utilities with their suspicious businesses were reported to the police after each other. At the beginning the reports and the related investigations were handled by the Department of Economic Protection of the BRFK, later they were taken over by the Department of Special Investigation directed by Szabadváriné: just as the BKV-case, the case of FKF, the Főkert, the Főtáv and the Budapest Bath Board were in her hands.
Was it Szabadváriné’s department who proceeded in the case of the other public utilities involved?
Yes, it was. After the arrests and coercions, the prosecutions were brought in the cases of the other Budapest public utilities, as well, in most of the cases by Szabadváriné’s Department. In the BKV-case it was not Szabadváriné who brought the prosecution since Hagyó’s case – his being the member of the parliament – was taken over by the High Prosecutor’s Office of Central Investigations.
In the case of the companies in Budapest did they also proceed unprofessionally?
Yes, they did. Similarly to the BKV-case, serious questions arise around the circumstances of the investigatory testimonies prior to the prosecutions brought by Szabadváriné. The BRFK initiated investigation against the FKF Ltd. (Budapest Maintenance of the Public Places) because of the suspicion of breach of fiduciary duty on 20 April, 2010. After “months of collecting evidence” they accused the former Chief Executive Officer, Péter Bielek and five other persons.
What does the “months of collecting evidence” mean exactly?
Bielek was firstly reached by the BRFK secretly in order to clarify that he is not accused of anything, offering him cooperation. At the police, however, during a five-hour interrogation – in quite a gloomy atmosphere – he was asked about Hagyó, Demszky and Ernő Mesterházy. He admitted he was afraid of not letting him go home to his family, for this very reason under such pressure he made statements to fulfill the expectations of the police, however the content of these statements were not according to the truth at all. In spite of the earlier promise of the BRFK, his testimony was published in the Magyar Nemzet therefore during the second interrogation he denied his statements made earlier that Hagyó and his partners had claimed money from him. Probably this was the reason behind the fact that one week later Szabadváriné’s department brought prosecution against him for causing damage of 70 million forints over a contract related to the so called Pusztazámor-tender. His lawsuit is still in progress.
Is the investigation conducted in the case of Főtáv questionable, as well?
Yes, it is. In the case of Főtáv Ltd. the investigation was initiated in May, 2010 as a result of a charge made by a private person. Lajos Kovács, the then Chief Executive Officer, was taken into custody on July 20, 2010 and he was kept in for half a year. Interestingly, he stated in his investigatory testimony that Hagyó also charged Főtáv with a so-called “membership fee”. At this point we should keep in mind that it was stated by a top 100 criminal. Also, we are already aware of the fact that since György Sz’s statements the investigators have continuously tried to abuse the tight situations of the accused in other cases in order to obtain the necessary incriminatory statements against their victims.
Was Gábor Demszky, the then Lord Mayor, interrogated in the cases of the companies involved?
Interestingly, Hagyó’s superior, the then Lord Mayor, Gábor Demszky was interrogated in relation with only one single case – the case of the Főkert Nonprofit Ltd. Also important to note that taking politeness into consideration the Lord Mayor was interrogated in his own office in the town hall. The interrogation was conducted by Ottó Halász, who also interrogated Miklós Hagyó, and took part in Péter Bielek’s and Lajos Kovács’s interrogations. Since then due to his diligence and hard work he was appointed as the deputy team leader of the elite executive board of FKF. On June 7, 2010 the BRFK initiated an investigation against Főkert because of the suspicion of breach of fiduciary duty. Thanks to the successful co-operation between Szabadváriné and her colleagues, of course there was no prosecution brought against Főkert.
Where did Szabadváriné continue her career after the prosecutions?
After the prosecutions brought against the public utilities, in August 2012 Péter Polt, Prosecutor General transferred Szabadváriné - after being responsible for a considerable department in Budapest she was assigned a simple prosecutor position of the High Prosecution Office of Pest County. Shortly she left the organization – in 2013 her service was terminated. The reason behind Szabadváriné’s leaving was not cited in the related report published in the prosecutory journal. Also, it remained uncovered if she was the one asking for her termination. Anyway, her unemployment was a short-term one: taking her husband’s name, dr. Szabadváriné Péter Ottóné (1 Feb, 2013) occupied her new position as Municipal Chief Advisor in Tarlós’s office.
Why did she change her name after getting under Tarlós’s wings?
It is puzzling why she began to use her military prosecutor husband’s name. However, on second thought, it is not accidental that she tried to avoid advertising her new workplace: the prosecutor playing into Tarlós’s hands in the BKV-case was awarded for her more than one-sided services by Tarlós, already elected as Lord Mayor. (To find out more about the possible reasons behind the name-change read box “Winners”.)
When did the prosecution admit that the Nokia box does not exist?
On June 30, 2015 on the trial of the BKV-case the prosecution finally admitted that the statements on the Nokia-box remained unproved – two and a half year after Zsolt Balogh unsaid his false testimony on the Nokia-box stuffed with bribes. It seems to be that the prosecution needed more than two years to finally accept the fact that in spite of all their wishes they have to stop their unreasonable and baseless proceeding.
The count of the Nokia-box was baseless?
Yes, it was. Taking the chronology of the BKV-case into consideration it is easy to reason that the course of events was more than extraordinary. The investigation into bribery was initiated by the prosecution only after Balogh had unsaid his related statement. Until this point, the charge of bribery was considered to be one-statement supported, forgetting about the fact that the statement was made under coercion – in other words the Nokia-box was made up by the prosecution itself.
Why the prosecution and Tarlós “put their heads together” to make up the Nokia-box?
Out of interest, of course. For the ones paying careful attention to the events it was easy to put the bigger picture together. The legend of the Nokia-box and the miring Hagyó Miklós, then Deputy Lord Mayor of MSZP were more than useful before the elections in 2010 – not only for the FIDESZ, but also for Tarlós greedy the Lord Mayor’s seat. The success in miring the other leading party resulted in the country becoming covered in orange and the two-thirds.
Is it possible to accuse somebody and take to court without founded reasons?
Unfortunately, in Hungary it is quite easy to accuse somebody and keep in custody without grounded reasons. Apparently it became a current practice for the police, the prosecution and the court to put their heads together if the political interest requires. Let me cite a classic quotation: “Show me one single person in this damn country who cannot be proved to be guilty in 5 minutes, including me and you! (Péter Bacso: The Witness).