image source: billofrightsinstitute.org
Before the debut of the trial of the 15 associates of the Budapest Transit Company (BKV), the prosecution team had a simple job. Their only task was to put together a case which clearly demonstrated the guilt of the 15 suspects, an alleged criminal network comprised of BKV’s upper management who were directed by a former deputy mayor of Budapest. BKV was already under public scrutiny for a severance payment scandal. Miklós Hagyó, the former deputy mayor and suspect number one, had already been publicly shamed. Popular opinion considered him a relic from the oppressive Russian past, maybe because many of the non-socialist media outlets portrayed him as such.
Shortly following the smear campaign and while awaiting the trial’s commencement, Hagyó and many other defendants spent a considerable amount of time jail. The prosecution justified this by claiming they held substantial evidence which indicated the suspects intended to flee the country. The prosecution cannot merely will someone into jail, however. A signature was therefore required to approve proposals for pretrial jail. Many suspect a woman by the name of Mária Szívós to be the authorizing judge, at least in the case of Miklós Hagyó, who arguably endured the worst treatment during nine months in pretrial jail.
The prosecution has not been able to provide ample evidence for their cause, however. The court has heard testimony after testimony, all of which revealed that the investigators coerced incriminating statements from the suspects. According to the defendants, the prosecutors and the police worked hand in hand. Many times the defendants stated that the interrogators would fax the investigative statements of the suspects directly to prosecutors during the ongoing interrogations.
For what were the investigators searching? According to the defendants, they sought evidence, authentic or fabricated, which placed Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky and his deputy Miklós Hagyó at the forefront of an elaborate corruptions scene from which the left-wing parties greatly profited.
According to the defendants, the trial of Miklós Hagyó and the other 14 associates is a show trial – one in which the verdict is rigged because the suspects are political opponents of those in power.