Activist Gulyás and former LMP politician Várnai among nine charged in Városliget case

July 18, 2017

Police took demonstrators away during clashes between Ligetvédők activists and police last year.                                                                                                    Photo: MTI/Balogh Zoltán

Last week, prosecutors leveled charges against nine individuals connected to the environmental activist group Ligetvédők (Park Protectors), who allegedly obstructed works at a construction site in Budapest City Park last year in opposition to government plans to turn Europe’s oldest public park into a museums quarter.

According to a new report from pro-government daily Magyar Idők, among the nine activists being charged for disorderly conduct are civil activist Márton Gulyás and former Politics Can Be Different (LMP) politician László Várnai. The two men and the seven other accused could face sentences of public labor.

The report also states that Várnai, currently a representative of the district XIV Civil Zugló Association, took part in an activist action on July 5 when some 25 Ligetvédők activists attempted to obstruct the transplantation of three large, 100-year-old trees. Several activists were issued citations for damaging a mobile cordon surrounding the work area, and some chained themselves to construction equipment. Várnai allegedly damaged an automobile owned by the company transplanting the trees.

Márton Gulyás  Photo: Tamás Botos

Gulyás, who was recently sentenced in a highly-publicized trial to 300 hours of public labor for throwing water-soluble paint at the Presidential Palace, underwent surgery after his finger was broken by a security guard during last year’s skirmishes between activists and police. Gulyás told the Budapest Beacon that the charges against him are unfounded and a violation of the rule of law.

Here is Gulyás’s complete statement.

A year ago I was attacked and assaulted by one of the contracted bodyguards of the state’s company (Városliget Zrt.), which is responsible for managing the construction of the planned museum-quarter. My finger was broken and in order to heal it, I had a surgery. The police dropped the investigation after a month and they never identified my attacker.

In the meantime, the boss of these contracted-bodyguards claimed on TV that I was the assaulter and not his colleagues, and that I cut them several times with a knife. It was bullshit – I filed a lawsuit against this person, but the court has not reacted in a year.

Yesterday I read the newspaper report about the XIV. District Prosecutor’s Office charging nine activists with vandalism, and I was informed that I was one of them. It took a year (!) for the Prosecutor to raise these charges. A year. So my comment is plain and simple: I am innocent and this process is unacceptable and there will be consequences for this notorious violation of the rule of law by the institutions of the state.

Márton Gulyás