The National Election Committee (NVB) has faulted a justice ministry official for writing to NVB members in connection with an immunity case involving an opposition MEP candidate, Csaba Czeglédy, who has been investigated in connection with suspected corruption.
The committee’s head said on Monday that Pál Völner, the justice ministry state secretary, had meddled unlawfully when he wrote a letter to the committee’s members complaining about the NVB’s decision not to lift the immunity of Csaba Czeglédy, a Democratic Coalition candidate in the EP elections.
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On Saturday, Völner wrote of the ministry’s “deep shock” on learning that the NVB had refused to suspend Czeglédy’s immunity.
Péter Rádi, the committee’s chairman, said the NVB’s decision had been hijacked for the purposes of the election campaign. He said
whereas the state secretary had the right to express his opinion as a politician, he had overstepped the bounds of legality by writing a letter of complaint on behalf of a public body.
At the same time, the NVB rejected objections Czeglédy raised against the respective spokesmen of the Christian Democratic party and its senior ally, Fidesz.
The Christian Democrat Lőrinc Nacsa called on NVB members who voted not to lift Czeglédy’s immunity to renounce their decision or otherwise face being outed publicly. Fidesz’s János Halász then publicly named the relevant committee members.
In both cases, the committee voted 14:3 in favour of the statement that the spokesmen were exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The NVB’s decisions are not final and can be appealed to the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, within three days.
Völner had written to Rádi saying that it was unprecedented in Hungary that the immunity of someone suspected of a public crime had not been lifted.
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“This is unacceptable and complicates the work of law enforcement while allowing the suspect to get rid of evidence or escape from the country,” he said, adding that it was unprecedented that “certain political circles” were trying to hamper the operation of the justice system.
A hearing had been under way in a Szeged court in connection with suspected commercial crimes involving Czeglédy and associates, but the court suspended the proceedings because a candidate for membership of the European Parliament enjoys immunity from prosecution. The court asked the NVB to suspend his immunity, but on Tuesday the committee decided to uphold it.
In the featured photo: Péter Rádi. Photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI