One would not have thought it possible that political show trials are still possible in the European Union. But there are some examples that raise legitimate doubts about the state of the rule of law in some member states. The portal 3szek.ro presents the latest developments in the case of the so-called Szeklerland terror accusation.
The harsh sentences against Catalan politicians and activists for their role in the 2017 independence referendum are still vividly remembered, at least by the part of the public that closely follows the fate of autochthonous minorities (about 50 million Europeans, after all). Far less in the media spotlight was a political show trial at the Eastern end of the European Union that took place a year earlier.
Zoltán Lomnici Sr. Photo: Facebook Árpád János Potápi
It involved two young men, István Beke and Zoltán Szőcs, who belong to the Hungarian-speaking ethnic group of Szeklers in Transylvania, Romania, who were put on trial at the time, because their intercepted conversations and the firecrackers (sic. !) found in Beke’s apartment led Romanian authorities to believe that they intended to detonate a homemade bomb in the main square of Târgu Mureş (Marosvásárhely) in 2015 during a military parade marking Romania’s national holiday.
The two leaders of a youth, who were presented by Romanian authorities as terrorists, made use of the freedom of speech, conscience, opinion and assembly, which is part of the natural framework of political action in every constitutional state. This nationalist organization never had a large following in Transylvania: for the majority of level-headed Transylvanian Hungarians, they were simply hotheads who could not muddy the waters. Their jerseys with the outlines of Greater Hungary, however, were a thorn in the flesh of that part of the Romanian public that ascribes revisionism to the Hungarian minority.
During house searches, in addition to Hungarian flags and novels by author Albert Wass, accessories for airsoft rifles, which were part of the inventory of István Beke’s specialized store, were also found. The latter were confiscated as evidence of planning an attack, and the possession of Hungarian symbols and fiction was also almost assessed as aggravating circumstances.
The verdicts caused great consternation among Hungarians in Transylvania, as the Bucharest Court of First Instance found most of the prosecution’s arguments unfounded. Time and again, lawyers and human rights organizations have pointed out the extremely thin evidence. The fact that the reason for the conviction and the allegedly decisive evidence were kept secret and not even communicated to the defendants and their lawyers raise fears that in this case the Romanian authorities wanted to make an example of all those who stand up for the autonomy of Szeklerland.
This impression is reinforced by the latest developments in the case. The pyrotechnic items seized from István Beke in 2015 are to be destroyed, according to a decision by the Bucharest Court of Appeals. Zoltán Lomnici Sr, President of the Council for Human Dignity pointed out that although the destruction of evidence is not against the law, it is still a cause for concern. The former Chief Justice recalled that the legality of the proceedings is being reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The material evidence that is now to be destroyed was the basis for the conviction. However, the defense has argued from the beginning that the fireworks seized from István Beke were not capable of committing a terrorist act.
Via Ungarn Heute, MTI. Featured image: Árpád János Potápi Facebook