Presenting in one concise package the week’s most important and fascinating national stories, whether they be economic, political, cultural, sporting or among the hundreds of other happenings that go on daily.
Biszku gets second chance
A municipal appeals court on Monday annulled a lower court ruling in the case of Béla Biszku, Hungary’s interior minister in communist times, for the alleged role he played in the retaliation that followed the anti-Soviet uprising in 1956 and ordered new proceedings. The court ruled that Biszku’s case should be tried by a new judicial council. Last year a primary court sentenced him to five years and six months imprisonment for war crimes in the form of instigation and complicity to homicide in a non-binding ruling. Both the now-94-year-old defendant, who pleaded not guilty, and the prosecutor appealed the sentence. Biszku was interior minister between 1957 and 1961. The indictment said that in the immediate aftermath of the thwarted 1956 revolution Biszku was a member of the Temporary Executive Committee, a central steering body of the then-newly formed Hungarian Socialist Workers Party (MSZMP). The committee had set up a special police force, directly controlled by its members, which was then responsible for firing shots at the public, including unarmed protesters, in several parts of the country. It is the first time that a Soviet-era leader of the time has been put on trial in Hungary.
Museum quarter Japanese architect to visit
Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, who has been chosen to design the House of Hungarian Music (pictured) under Hungary‘s large-scale museum development project, will visit Budapest next week, the government commissioner in charge of the project, Laszlo Baan, said on Tuesday. Fujimoto was named the “Architecture Innovator of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal newspaper in 2014, Baan told public news channel M1. He had designed a fantastic building winning inspiration from music which will be absolutely unique “not only in what it will look like on the outside but what it will contain inside,” said Baan. It would be an oval-shaped glass structure with a cloud-like roof and exhibition spaces and a smaller concert hall installed underneath. The museum is part of the Liget Budapest project that involves setting up another four museums for fine arts, architecture, ethnography and photography in City Park. It is planned for opening to the public in spring 2018.
HUF 5 billion jackpot won
After 37 weeks, a lucky individual got all the five numbers right and won Hungary‘s second-largest jackpot ever. The five lucky numbers were: 18, 55, 56, 83, 90. The record jackpot of HUF 5.1 billion – which likely would have been broken next week – was won in November of 2003.
Death penalty `cause for divorce`
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he would consider it “cause for divorce” if Hungary introduces the death penalty. “No one who introduces capital punishment has a place in the European Union,” he told Süddeutsche Zeitung in a Monday interview. Juncker said it was part of his basic political credo that there should be no capital punishment, so a conflict would ensue were Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to challenge this. On his recent remarks to Orbán that were picked up by the Hungarian press, Juncker said he had been calling him a “dictator” for two years. “It is a sign of friendship,” he told the paper. Commenting on Orbán calling the EU‘s quota plan for refugees “insanity”, Juncker said Orbán was “obviously not familiar with the terms of psychology and neuroscience but this could not be held against him”.
Fans bury football
At the end of last Friday‘s Pécs-Nyíregyháza football match, the supporters of the home team dug a hole at the centre spot of the pitch and buried a coffin to symbolise the end of football in Pécs. The Hungarian Football Association has denied the top league licence request of five teams, which will reduce the number of participants to 12 next season.
Government, EC views `no closer on Altus affair`
The views of the government and the European Commission on a contract signed by the EC with Altus, a company owned by former prime minister and leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) party Ferenc Gyurcsány, had moved no closer during talks on Tuesday, cabinet chief János Lázár said in Brussels. Speaking after meeting EC director-general in charge of regional policy Walter Deffaa, Lázár said it was unacceptable that the company received a contract worth EUR 5 million from the EC to check the utilisation of EU funding in Hungary. Lázár said the EC could not have taken into account requirements concerning impartiality and conflict of interest before awarding the contract, adding that it was only Altus that had to submit a statement about meeting the requirements. “In my opinion the European Commission was not circumspect enough and made a grave error when it accepted the statement,” he said, adding that Deffaa disagreed with and rejected his interpretation. Lázár said the contract would be considered “illegal party financing” as Gyurcsány makes significant contributions to DK. “Giving money to Altus means giving money to Gyurcsány, which means making contributions to DK,” he said. Deffaa was “not open” to this approach and asked for a written proposal, which Lázár promised to submit on Wednesday. Meanwhile, DK has published a letter sent by Deffaa to Lázár in May. The director-general writes in it that the tender submitted by Altus was one of the three best offers and that the company won in an open competition. Deffaa said the assignment does not cover auditing or any form of assessment. The letter makes it clear that every member of the consortium led by Altus had to declare that the tender involved no conflict of interest or any other obstacle that would result in disqualification from the tender process. (read more on page 13)
Food gardens growing
A community gardens project has converted a derelict lot used previously by Magyar Telekom into 100 garden plots of some eight square metres each where nearby residents can grow vegetables, fruit and herbs. Sándor Finta, Budapest‘s chief architect, said at the opening ceremony that the city’s community gardens are growing, creating more green space while leaving the historic centre intact. Supporting such projects is an important part of Budapest‘s long-term 2030 development concept, he added.