Interview Raises Questions about Judicial Impartiality

A Hungarian judge who criticized the Orbán government in an interview with The Guardian and raised concerns about judicial impartiality, which was accused of handing down questionable verdicts in the past.

A senior judge at the Central District Court of Pest accused the Hungarian government of “constantly overreaching” its authority to sway the courts, The Guardian reported on Sunday. Csaba Vasvári, who is also the spokesperson for the National Judicial Council, told the British liberal newspaper that he and his colleagues on the bench “have been witnessing attempts to interfere externally and internally” for several years. Vasvári also lamented a lack of transparency in judicial appointments made by the president of the National Office for the Judiciary (NJO), The Guardian added.

Vasvári’s statement has drawn immediate criticism in Hungary, as it is not standard or ethically questionable for a judge to make political statements, especially in the foreign press.

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The conservative daily Magyar Nemzet recalled that Vasvári has been fighting the government and the judicial structure for years. The paper also drew attention to something that the judge is hardly keen to have discussed.

Magyar Nemzet noted that the section about Vasvári’s involvement in the 2006 events was deleted from his Wikipedia article last year. According to the deleted – and as of now, partially reinstated text – Vasvári made “arbitrary” rulings after the 2006 riots against the then Socialist-led government: “In a high-profile case, 23-year-old Dániel Dukán, who was Beaten up by police, was sentenced by Vasvári to two and a half years in prison for assaulting an official, although the prosecution had only asked for a one-year prison sentence for assault. Dukán was also convicted at the second instance and lost his compensation case against the police. In another case, however, the Budapest Court of Appeal awarded him HUF 2 million. Other demonstrators convicted by Vasvári were rehabilitated under the annulment law that entered into force in 2013.”

“In recent years, Vasvári, who has spoken out in the liberal media, has not had to answer unpleasant questions about his decisions in 2006, but rather has deliberately kept these matters quiet. It would seem that Vasvári is only concerned about the rule of law when Hungary has a right-wing government,” Magyar Nemzet added.

Featured photo via MTI/Beliczay László

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