Budapest, October 2 (MTI) – Former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Wednesday’s court sentence in the Sukoro casino case was a sign that “some parts of the justice system are working unlawfully, giving in to political bias”.
It is a serious crime known to dictatorships when authorities imprison their political adversaries with the help of the courts, Gyurcsany, who is leader of the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), told a press conference on Friday.
He said it was clear that originally his successor had targeted him, in unfair and unlawful methods, but because his prosecution had failed, the “weaker” Miklos Tatrai, former head of the state asset management company (MNV), and Zsolt Csaszy, former sales manager of MNV, were given prison sentences. He said Tatrai had told him the prosecutor was constantly asking him to provide a false testimony against Gyurcsany during the trial.
“This is not only unfair but also in breach of the law,” he said. Those in power today should be warned that after their fall, “the files will be opened and today’s prosecutors will become tomorrow’s defendants,” Gyurcsany added.
In response, ruling Fidesz called it “appalling” that Gyurcsany was attacking the independent Hungarian court for having declared Sukoro, “which is still so important to him”, a criminal case.
“Gyurcsany wants to politically micromanage the independent Hungarian court just as he did the police in 2006,” Fidesz said, referring to anti-government riots after Gyurcsany’s “lies speech”.
A court on Wednesday sentenced Tatrai to four years in prison for causing damages to the state in connection with a planned casino investment near the village of Sukoro, next to Lake Velence, in central Hungary. The secondary defendant, Csaszy, was charged as an accomplice in document fraud and given a sentence of 42 months in prison.
The Szolnok court’s rulings are not binding and the attorneys of the primary and secondary defendants, as well as the fifth co-defendant, have all appealed their clients’ sentences. The prosecution appealed for harsher penalties for all defendants with the exception of the fifth co-defendant.
The case goes back to the summer of 2008 when the Socialist-led government, represented by MNV, signed a controversial land-swap contract with Israeli-Hungarian businessman Joav Blum. Gyurcsany was also investigated for suspected abuse of office in the deal, a charge that was later dropped.