Budapest (MTI) – Hungary’s chief judge has warned of the dangers of politicians pressuring the courts if they do not like a ruling.
Péter Darák’s comments were in reaction to strong criticism of a recent court decision to acquit all 15 suspects in a case involving Hungary’s worst environmental disaster.
The head of the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, said in a statement on Monday that external pressure on the judiciary endangers constitutionality.
“Judges must be able to rule freely and without bias, and calling them to account … goes against the spirit of the constitution,” he said.
“Society must accept this but eligible persons can express their disagreement by requesting legal remedy. The principle of a judicial ruling free of all external influence is absolutely protected by the constitution, and all statements that suggest an opposite expectation undermine the basis of constitutionality,” he added.
The publicity and transparency of judges’ power does not mean that judges and judicial leaders can be called to account in ongoing cases, Darák said. “The requirement to abstain from this applies all the more to representatives of other branches of power,” he added.
A ruling Fidesz MP said on Sunday that the party is initiating a debate in parliament’s justice committee of two court rulings last week.
The committee will discuss the acquittal of all 15 suspects in a case involving Hungary’s worst environmental disaster, a flood of industrial sludge, and a suspended prison sentence handed down to the capital’s former Socialist deputy mayor, Miklós Hagyó, on charges of embezzlement.
Fidesz MP Szilárd Németh said most people are rightfully incensed by the acquittal and the suspended sentence.
In a statement released late Sunday, Socialist MP Gergely Bárándy said his party had told Fidesz to “get off the back of the independent judiciary” and instead sack the person “most responsible for trials that have run aground,” Péter Polt, the chief public prosecutor.