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A justice ministry official has said the government was “astonished” that the National Election Committee has refused a court request to suspend the immunity of Csaba Czeglédy, a Democratic Coalition MEP candidate who has been investigated in connection with corruption.

In a letter to Péter Rádi, the election committee’s head, justice ministry state secretary Pál Völner said that never before in Hungary had there been a case in which the immunity of someone suspected of a public crime had not been lifted.

“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.

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He said the fact that immunity is not a fundamental right had been established by the Constitutional Court in 2018 in connection with Czeglédy.

Völner said opposition delegates of the election committee were undermining trust in the legal system, and he asked the NVB’s head to send a letter to all delegates saying that “no political gambles should be made when it comes to the issue of Hungarian democracy and the future of Europe.”

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: state secretary Pál Völner.