Jobbik’s Kovács says in own interest to end spy, fraud cases soon – UPDATE
Before questioning by Hungary’s central investigating prosecutor on Wednesday, Béla Kovács, an MEP of the opposition Jobbik party, accused of spying for Russia and budgetary fraud, said he wanted to draw a line under the criminal charges against him.
Kovács told journalists in front of the prosecution headquarters that he would ask for the case to be concluded as quickly as possible.
“If they think they have the appropriate quantity of evidence, then they should raise charges against me, and I’d like to clear myself in court,” he said. “But if there isn’t the appropriate quantity of evidence, then I’d ask them to end the procedure…” he added.
The Jobbik MEP insisted it was clear that the case against him had been concocted by the ruling Fidesz party in order to discredit him personally as well as the Jobbik party.
Speaking at a press conference after the hearing, Kovacs also denied that he had spied against EU institutions for Russia or any other country. He insisted that the case against him had been concocted by the ruling Fidesz party.
The MEP said he was cooperative at Wednesday’s hearing which focused on the fraud allegations. He expressed hope that the espionage case would also be put to rest before the end of the year.
Kovács said he would welcome if authorities decided not to raise charges against him, but would prefer that they did, because this way he could clear himself in court.
He also denied that it was Jobbik leader Gábor Vona who had pressed him to appear at the hearing.
Addressing the espionage allegations, he said meeting diplomats was part of his job as MEP, noting that he had met with diplomats from Russia and other countries. But these meetings “were never conspiratorial”, he insisted.
He also pointed out that his job as co-leader of the joint energy working committee of the European and Russian parliaments had also included accompanying Russian delegations to Paks, where Hungary is upgrading its sole nuclear power plant with a loan from Russia.
He said Hungarian intelligence services should have warned him if they had become aware that there were spies around him.
Richárd Simon, deputy spokesman for the central investigating prosecutor, told journalists after the hearing that Kovács is accused of having signed “fictitious” internship contracts with four private individuals in 2012-2013 for four-month and six-month periods. The European Parliament transferred 28,000 euros to Kovács in connection with the contracts. The prosecutor’s office has concluded that the interns did not exist, Simon said. A further three individuals are implicated in the case, he said, adding that they, too, would be questioned.
He noted that last May the Constitutional Protection Office asked the EP to suspend Kovács’s immunity in connection with suspicions that he had regularly met covertly with Russian diplomats in Moscow. His immunity was lifted in October 2015. His immunity in connection with the fraud case was lifted in May of this year, Simon noted.