Budapest (MTI) – The Hungarian government was shocked to learn that Attila Marko, a deputy of Romania’s ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party, had been handed a suspended prison term in a case concerning the restitution of a property to the Reformed Church, Zsolt Semjen, Hungary’s deputy prime minister, told MTI on Wednesday.
Endeavours by the Romanian government to re-nationalise properties restituted to ecclesiastical organisations, including the Szekler Miko College of Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy) in Marko’s case, are unacceptable, Semjen said.
In its sentence, a court of appeals in Ploiesti upheld part of an earlier ruling under which the Reformed Church would be stripped of the ownership of the restituted property.
In 2012, a lower court ruled that the college’s being restituted to the church by a three-strong body, including Marko, had been an “abuse (of authority) against public interest” and handed prison sentences to its members.
The first-instance ruling was met with an uproar by ethnic Hungarians in Romania, and has been seen as an attempt to strip churches of restituted properties.
The college, similarly to a multitude of other church estates, was confiscated under Romania’s communist regime.
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