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Gyurcsány accused of 2006 police abuses

September 28th, 2011

Népszabadság believes the report submitted by the Prime Minister to Parliament on the conduct of the police force during the 2006 riots is part of a witch-hunt. The right-wing dailies demand a judicial inquiry into former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s responsibility for the “acts of terror” unleashed by police commanders against peaceful citizens.

As BudaPost reported on September 19, the leak five years ago of the then PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s ill famed “we lied” speech sparked a month-long series of demonstrations in Budapest. A mob assaulted the headquarters of MTV, the Hungarian Public Television, while riot police were condemned to watch passively from the side-lines. Two further days of rioting followed, but this time the police were unleashed in their full fury – detaining and maltreating whoever crossed their path. A month later on October 23, the police force failed to prevent an unruly crowd from mingling with Fidesz supporters disbanding after a peaceful rally to mark the 50thanniversary of the 1956 revolution. The police attacked with tear-gas and rubber bullets, and in the chaos many Fidesz supporters as well as innocent bystanders and even foreign tourists and a Member of Parliament were badly beaten by police. After the change of government last year, Fidesz MP István Balsai, a lawyer and former Minister of Justice, was appointed by PM Viktor Orbán to investigate the misdeeds of the former Socialist cabinet and prepared a 144 page report on what happened in the autumn of 2006, co-authored by a former judge, Miklós Völgyesi. The report submitted to the government in March this year was sent by the Prime Minister to Parliament at the end of last week, and the Speaker, László Kövér immediately released its full text on Monday, September 26.

“Now they want to charge Gyurcsány with acts of terrorism as well,” – reads Népszava’s front page headline. The photo which illustrates the lead story shows a lone demonstrator armed with a stick, attacking the police unit defending the TV building. The caption under the picture reads “no doubt about  the victim.”

In his analysis in Népszabadság, Károly Lencsés finds that Mr Balsai has produced no great factual novelties. “Gyurcsány’s criminal liability should have been proven instead of just being asserted”, Lencsés remarks, adding that the former premier may be right when he claims that the present government has released the document in order to divert attention from its own misgovernance of the country. “There is no other explanation for the withholding of the document from the public for over six months”.

What else are we waiting for?” – asks Gergely Huth in an editorial in Magyar Hírlap. He believes the report provides sufficient evidence to prove “the personal responsibility,” of the competent police commanders and of the then Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány who was in touch with them by telephone. “He had better challenge the content of the report point by point in his blog, instead of fantasising about an attempted coup by Fidesz and rioters incited by Fidesz against the police.”

“Balsai thinks it is imperative to examine the political and legal responsibility of the prime minister of the time. So do we,” – asserts Matild Torkos in Magyar Nemzet. She admits that the report does not outline just which acts are to be considered criminal offences and which paragraphs of the criminal code should be applied to them, but “the series of shamefully brutal acts by the police, and the cover-up of the most striking breaches of law, could not have happened without being ordered, approved – and later ignored – at the highest level.”

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