The former Socialist mayor of District XI Gyula Molnár and his deputy were cleared this week of corruption charges related to the sale of a 38-hectare plot of land for redevelopment. The first instance ruling by Budapest Metropolitan Court is the latest failure in Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s conservative government’s bid to follow up on an election pledge to root out allegedly corrupt public officials who held office under previous Socialist-led administrations. The court threw out the District XI case on the grounds that no crime had been committed.
Molnár said after the verdict that he had been the victim of a political attack. His new party, the breakaway Democratic Coalition led by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, called on Hungary’s chief prosecutor Péter Polt to resign. Government “accountability commissioner” Gyula Budai had already been relieved of his post in August and no replacement named.
0.5% cases led to charges
Nevertheless, the government declared itself satisfied with his work at a press conference headed by Fidesz politician János Lázár, Orbán’s chief of staff. Budai, also present, said he had investigated 1,442 cases. However, only a small proportion of his reports led to action by prosecutors, only seven led to criminal charges, and not a single conviction has so far resulted from his efforts.
Didn’t get former PM either
One of Budai’s most publicised failures was an inability to come up with evidence upon which the prosecution service could credibly charge former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány with abuse of office over a shelved casino development project. In fact Gyurcsány and his successor Gordon Bajnai sued Budai for defamation after he accused them in a press conference of perjury. Budai did not show up for the first court hearing in July.