In its latest public opinion poll, Hungarian think tank Századvég Foundation asked people about the police officer recently murdered in Budapest. The survey found that the majority of Hungarians would expect tougher action against those who commit violent crimes.
Last week in Budapest, a young police officer was killed in the line of duty after being stabbed to death by an assailant with a previous conviction for violent crime. The offender was under the influence of drugs and injured two other police officers.
According to Századvég, the tragic case has caused a major stir in the national public discourse in recent days. In this context, the think tank conducted a survey of 1,000 people to find out how the adult Hungarian population views the prosecution of perpetrators of violent crime. The public importance of the incident is shown by the fact that 97 percent of those polled had heard that a police officer was stabbed in the evening of January 12 while on duty in the capital, they wrote.
They noted that the Hungarian legal system provides increased criminal law protection for public officials, including police officers, to ensure the smooth functioning of the state, but the survey data shows that the vast majority of people expect the legislator to take stronger action in this area than it currently does.
93% of respondents agreed with the statement that there should be tougher action against those who commit violent offenses against public officials. The survey also shows that Hungarians believe that being under the influence of drugs should not be an excuse for committing violent acts.
More than four-fifths (81%) of respondents said that more severe penalties should be imposed on those who claim to be under the influence of drugs in cases of violent crime or murder. In addition, more than two-thirds (68%) of Hungarians would remove the possibility for perpetrators of murder to seek lighter sentences due to their state of mind, the survey said.
Sergeant Major Péter Baumann’s death was declared heroic. He would have been 30 years old this year.
Currently, according to Hungarian law, if the perpetrator pleads to have committed the crime under the influence of drugs, they can get a lighter penalty. In cases of claimed insanity, the assailant might be taken to a psychiatric facility instead of a prison. There are also tight rules for police on using their weapons against criminals.
Fortunately, police murder is not common in Hungary, unlike in other countries in the Western world, such as the United States or Western Europe. In the last 35 years, 13 such incidents took place in Hungary, including the most recent one in Budapest.
Featured photo via MTI/Mátyus Tamás, MTI/Máthé Zoltán