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Budaházy sentenced to 13 years

September 1st, 2016

Commentators ponder the severe sentences handed down to the defendants in the first political terror case in the history of Hungarian democracy.  

Extremist activist György Budaházy was condemned to 13 years in prison at a court of the first instance on Tuesday. He was found guilty of leading a terrorist organisation called ‘The Arrows of the Hungarians’ which carried out a series of attacks with Molotov cocktails and shotguns without killing or wounding anyone. Budaházy’s people also beat up and severely injured a journalist with a metal bar in a garage. A further eight defendants were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 months to 12 years. The case is under appeal. The radical right wing Jobbik party deemed the sentence too harsh. Jobbik spokesman Ádám Mirkóczy said Budaházy is not a terrorist and double standards were being applied, since former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány ‘and his associates’ have never been put behind bars as a result of the police brutalities in 2006 (see BudaPost, November 2, 2015).

In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer ’hates to sympathise’ with Budaházy, whom he considers a strange man whose ideas he would never share, but whose sentence he finds extremely tough. After all, Bayer argues, Budaházy’s people didn’t kill anyone and such harsh sentences are usually handed down to murderers in Hungary. He contrasts the sentence with the fate of former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány and his Budapest police chief Péter Gergényi who have never been jailed for overseeing the police violence in the autumn of 2006. A comparison of the two incidents is valid, he suggests, because without the state excesses of 2006, ‘there would be no Budaházy’. Bayer thinks in fact that Budaházy’s right-wing extremism was a reaction to the police brutality of those months.

In his Magyar Nemzet column, Albert Gazda argues with Budaházy’s  lawyer who ‘relativised his client’s misdeeds’ by telling the court ‘blessed is the country which has this kind of terrorism’. Gazda acknowledges that no one was killed as a result. But the incendiary attacks on two gay bars could have killed several people. The tough sentences send the right message, he thinks.

It its front page editorial, Népszabadság takes up Mr Gyurcsány’s  defence, asserting that the former Prime Minister represents no danger to democracy. The author also denies the claim that Mr Gyurcsány  ordered the police to attack peaceful demonstrators in 2006.  Meanwhile, the left-wing daily thinks that Mr Gyurcsány’s DK party is guilty of ‘gross exaggeration’ when it claims that Budaházy’s group ‘grew up under the protective wings of Fidesz’.


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