The appeals court of Budapest fined Péter Gergényi, the former Budapest police chief, 400,000 forints (EUR 1,290) in a case related to police handling of violent anti-government riots in autumn 2006. The court acquitted another defendant of charges of negligence.
The 2006 riots were triggered by the leak of then Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech behind closed door at a party meeting in which he confessed that his party had lied about the state of the economy to win the 2006 election. Charges in connection with the riots were first raised against the police leaders in early 2013. The prosecution’s indictment said that Gergényi had acted in full knowledge that chaos had erupted due to a lack of coordination of police forces during the attack on the television headquarters in central Budapest on September 18 and anti-government demonstrations on October 23. Former national police chief László Bene was accused of ignoring orders, such as one requiring police officers to wear identity badges during riot patrols, among others.
The ruling Fidesz party derided the ruling as “inacceptable” and “appallingly mild”, adding that innocent demonstrators injured by police at the time had been sentenced more punitively in previous “show trials”. It is of paramount importance that the justice system provides “proportionate” punishments, it added.
Radical nationalist Jobbik slammed the ruling, branding it as “another spit in the face” at Hungarian democracy. Jobbik spokesman Péter Jakab insisted that responsibility for the events of 2006 lay with Gyurcsány. The Budapest Court of Appeals “weighed the events of 2006 according to [ruling] Fidesz’s laws and concluded that there is nothing wrong with shooting people’s eyes out, crippling them and ruining their lives”, Jakab said. He said this meant that the police leaders who had “participated in the police terror for which there is no statute of limitations” had “got off scot free”, noting that the court had acquitted Bene and József Dobozi, former head of the Police Security Service. Jakab also insisted that protestors who had participated in the riots against “the Gyurcsány regime” had earlier been sentenced to a combined 125 years in prison.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; photos: Noémi Bruzák – MTI