András Fekete-Győr, leader of opposition party Momentum, responded to the Prosecutor General’s Office charging him with assaulting law enforcement personnel, thereby impeding them in carrying out their duties.
The Budapest prosecutor’s office has pressed charges against him and five others, including Bendegúz Koppány Szarvas, a local representative of Momentum in Budapest for throwing bottles, pyrotechnic devices, and other objects at a police cordon during a demonstration in front of the Parliament back in December 2018.
There is video footage of the politician throwing a purple smoke dispenser at police during the protests. Under Hungarian law, assaulting officials or law enforcement personnel is punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. The prosecutor has proposed all but one of the suspects, a repeat offender, should be handed suspended prison sentences in an expedited procedure.
Fekete-Győr gave a press conference where he told reporters that he is innocent. He said he takes responsibility for all his actions, as he has always done, but he stated:
The charges that I assaulted law enforcement levied by the Orbán-prosecution are preposterous.”
He thinks that what is happening to him now would count as absurd anywhere but in Belarus or Putin’s Russia, and is certainly unheard-of in an EU member state.
“Nearly two years ago at the demonstration against the [so-called] slave-law, I dropped a purple smoke dispenser you can get at a toy shop between two walls of police officers after some policemen started shooting teargas into the crowd without warning,” he said. “Back then, I was protesting in Kossuth square so that companies would not be allowed to force employees into slave labor, into unpaid overtime.”
I will be in the dock because I dared to stand up for the interests of Hungarians.”
“It will not be Péter Szíjjártó, who spent his summer on the yacht of a corrupt oligarch for 9 million forints a day. Not István Tiborcz, who became a billionaire by stealing tax payers’ money. And not [chief prosecutor] Péter Polt, who with his sly silence made this all possible, protecting criminals and waiting for his palms to be greased.”
Fekete-Győr believes that Fidesz is terrified of Momentum getting stronger.
That is why Viktor Orbán wants to handcuff me.”
The Prosecutor’s Office Replies
The prosecutor’s office responded to András Fekete-Győr’s comments in a statement on Wednesday. They wrote:
The Office of the Prosecutor General of Hungary rejects all unsubstantiated libel that would cast doubt on the legal and professional functioning of the office.”
In cases like this, the prosecutor’s office treats all individuals equally, and carries out its duties in accordance with the law, and the courts make decisions determining guilt and the appropriate sentence, they stated.
The Central Chief Prosecution Office has charged nine people so far with assaulting a public officer due to unlawful conduct during the 2018 demonstrations in front of Parliament, according to their statement. The court has determined that parties were guilty in all of these cases, and for six of them the ruling has already come into effect. In five of these cases, the court handed out suspended prison time of one year or less, and in one case 1 year and 8 months.
It would be a violation of equality in the eyes of the law if some people were exempt from fair and just legal proceedings because of their political roles. In accordance with the principles of the rule of law, the court will have the final word.”
Parties and Politicians Comment
Opposition Party DK (Democratic Coalition) put out a statement that the national news agency MTI declined to publish entitled Keep your hands off of András Fekete-Győr!
In it, DK asserts that the “Orbán-regime is attempting to drag opposition politicians through the mud the same way they did to [DK MP] László Varju, who was assaulted by security guards on public television. […] This is another self-revealing act of the Orbán dictatorship. DK demands that this legal procedure be put an end to.
We stand by our allies in the opposition.”
What is happening now is an attempt at suppressing freedom of speech through the justice system. The message is clear: the Orbán regime plunging Hungary into an ever-greater crisis does not recoil from anything when it comes to the extermination of viewpoints that oppose theirs.
Tamás Deutsch, founding member of Fidesz and current member of the European Parliament, wrote a Facebook post in response to Fekete-Győr’s comments that “he severely overplayed his role (would not be admitted to the University of Theater and Film Arts).” He further noted that the party leader should sit down in the dock, and not stand, because he will be put in his place by the court.
Featured photo illustration from András Fekete-Győr’s Facebook page