An ethnic Hungarian man hit with a fine for putting up a bilingual Romanian-Hungarian street sign in the Transylvanian city of Marosvásárhely (Romanian: Târgu Mures) has had his penalty overturned by a local court.
In its first-instance ruling, the local court also cancelled the validity of a fining record issued to ethnic Hungarian language rights volunteer Miklós Barabás, who was “caught in the act” putting up the bilingual sign.
Speaking to the Hungarian state news agency MTI, Előd Kincses, Mr. Barabás’s attorney, said that the verdict echoes the ruling handed out one months ago to another fined activist, Lehel Csaba Benedek. In both cases, the court stated that it can be established without question that bilingual street signs cannot be considered advertisement billboards, meaning that the relevant law does not apply to them.
The city’s Culture Palace (to the right, as seen on a vintage postcard), has been listed as one of the highlights of Transylvania, Lonely Planet’s “Best region of the world” in 2016
Commenting on the verdict, Mr. Barabás said that the expected the favourable ruling and pointed out that similar fines only serve as an attempt to “tire out” people calling for respecting their rights or demanding liberties. Local police hit the two activists with the RON 5000 (HUF 350 000) fines in mid-April after the bilingual street signs as “unauthorised adertisement activity”. In the court procedure, the lawyer for Mr. Barabás and Mr. Benedek referred to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, ratified by Romania in 2008.
43 per cent of the city’s population of 133 000 idenfied as ethnic Hungarians in the 2011 census.