2013. május 15., szerda

The Constitutional Court Levels the Playing Field: Tünde Handó Ordered to Testify on Hagyó Case

According to a recent article in Népszava, a Hungarian daily newspaper, the Hungarian Constitutional Court has ordered President of the National Judicial Office Tünde Handó to appear before the court on April 23rd. 

The Court is demanding a testimony from Handó about the questionable transfer of the Hagyó Case from the Budapest court system to the Kecskemét Tribunal.

This is huge news for the 15 associates of the Budapest Transit Company (BKV), who are collectively accused of operating a criminal network under the supervision of former Budapest Deputy Mayor Miklós Hagyó.

The Constitutional Court, acting as the supreme legal body in Hungary, has never before proceeded with a public hearing.

The Court is acting upon the proposal from Hagyó and his lawyer, who appealed the transfer of the case citing its unconstitutionality and suspected bias from the court in Kecskemét, a known sympathizer to the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition.

The trial of Hagyó and the 14 other defendants was transferred on short notice by the President of the National Judicial Office (PNJO) on February 17th, 2012. The date was quite significant to primary defendant Hagyó. One day earlier on February 16th, 2012 he was acquitted of forgery accusations. The accusations were related to his time in pretrial detention for the BKV Case. The forgery case and its acquittal occurred in the Budapest court system.

The PNJO has been the subject international scrutiny. Perhaps it is because of the judicial power she wields in a government which at least superficially supports the checks and balances of democratic governance. Joshua Rozenberg from the Guardian summed the situation up: “In Hungary, one woman effectively controls the judiciary, and she happens to be married to the author of its constitution.” The article is here.

The author of the constitution would be József Szájer, a former Fidesz MP and the current Hungarian representative in the European Parliament. He is also the man who recently provided a testimony to the U.S. Helsinki Commission on behalf of Hungary regarding the state of democracy in the Central European country. In his initial address to the chairman, Szájer makes a noteworthy point about the current Hungarian constitution, dubbed as the Fundamental Law, and the current government’s comprehension of democratic-based governance. In defense of his party’s crown jewel, he stated that he and other authors of the constitution used the U.S. constitution as a model. A video of the hearing is here. Szájer mentions their use of the U.S. constitution at 1:08:45.

The Constitutional Court has remained silent until now on the proceedings of the well-known trial. If the Court follows through with the hearing of Handó and her reasoning in transferring the case to Kecskemét, the playing field could finally be leveled in the trial. That is, of course, supplementary to the insurmountable testimonial evidence which suggests the entire endeavor is a show trial with dark political intentions.

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