Trial of former Jobbik politician accused of spying starts
The trial in Budapest of Béla Kovács, an MEP and former Jobbik representative accused of spying on the institutions of the European Union (EU) and of committing financial fraud and forgery, started behind closed doors on Tuesday.
Because the evidence involves state secrets, only the judge, prosecutors, defence lawyers and defendants were present in court.
Kovács has denied the allegations, telling the press before proceedings of his unawareness that his interactions had been with intelligence agents.
The former Jobbik politician is accused of providing information to Russian intelligence agencies on energy issues, European parliamentary elections, domestic affairs in Hungary and the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant.
The aim was to undermine the EU from within and promote Russian interests, according to the charges.
The Constitutional Protection Office, Hungary’s internal security intelligence agency, filed a report against Kovács in April 2014 after it was revealed by the civil national security services that he had regularly met Russian diplomats and paid monthly visits to Moscow.
The European Parliament lifted his immunity in October 2015.
Charges were raised in early December of that year on suspicion that he had spied against EU institutions for Russia.
In 2017, the EP lifted his immunity in connection with another case. Hungary’s chief prosecutor Péter Polt requested the procedure citing information from the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF, which suggested that Kovacs had hired four interns, who never turned up in Brussels nor did they do any work. The EP then merged the two investigations into Kovács.
Also last year, he was charged by the Hungarian prosecutor with budgetary fraud, as well as betrayal of public trust.
The MEP has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Kovács and his three co-defendants have not been taken into custody.
Featured image: MTI