Former Hungarian ambassador to Peru, Gábor Kaleta, was sentenced to suspended prison time and was fined HUF 540,000 (EUR 1,535) for the possession of 19,000 pornographic photos of children. The ruling sparked huge outrage from many in Hungary, with several politicians and public figures expressing that they find the given verdict astonishingly lenient.
Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch lambasted the court ruling in a Facebook post, criticizing the Hungarian courts as well.
“There’s this aberrant pedophile photo collector, former ambassador named Kaleta, whose computer had more than 19,000 child pornography images on it. More than 19,000! For all this, he was sentenced by the extremely independent Hungarian court for one year, of course suspended, and has to pay a fine of HUF 540,000. One year suspended! Shameful!”
Van ez az aberrált, pedofil képeket tonnaszám gyűjtögető Kaleta nevű volt nagykövet, akinek a számítógépén több mint 19…
Geplaatst door Deutsch Tamás op Donderdag 2 juli 2020
It is important to point out that due to the legal changes, the judge had no leeway. Since the prosecutor’s motion was for Kaleta to be only given a one year sentence suspended for three years should the defendant confess, the court could not have imposed a more severe penalty even if they saw fit.
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Former Hungarian ambassador to the U.S also found the ruling baffling. Réka Szemerkényi, who was appointed to Washington between 2015- 2017 by the Orbán government, shared her thoughts about the verdict on social media. The diplomat calls the judgement shockingly lenient. “All this is happening in a country that proudly proclaims its strong family policy. Pedophilia is a shameful and horrific crime that must be firmly condemned and punished. Both are painfully missing,” Szemerkényi says, adding that as a mother of four, she cannot get over the sentence.
„If one can get away with a lenient punishment so easily, then Parliament should immediately initiate a review of the legal system and tighten the regulations,” she adds.
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The Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation writes in a social media post that “the judgment is not right, either from the perspective of children’s rights, child protection, or criminal law.”
According to the foundation, Hungarian criminal law does not take the problem of pornographic images of children seriously. In addition, there are no sufficient sanctions for pedophile offenders. Also, the ruling does not reflect the gravity of the crime.
In the meantime, government-critical Magyar Hang found that Kaleta’s lawyer is also a member of the White Lily Association (Fehér Liliom Egyesület), an organization sworn to protect sexually, physically, or mentally abused children.
At the hearing, the diplomat’s attorney, Csaba Mester, a celebrity lawyer, defended Kaleta by saying that his defendant is a deeply religious man and is tormented by remorse.
Kaleta was brought to Hungary in complete secrecy last spring, after more than 19,000 under-18 pornography photos had been found on his electronic devices amid an international operation. It was news site Index that broke the story of the former Hungarian ambassador to Peru months later. The prosecution filed charges against Kaleta in November 2019. Later, the parliamentary report of his case was sealed for ten years. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to the child pornography charges at his preliminary hearing.
Featured photo by Endre Véssey/MTI