Former Budapest District 5 mayor Antal Rogán promised through his lawyer to appear before a court to face convicted felon Tamás Portik, who claims he gave Rogán HUF 10 million in bribes as part of a real estate racket.
Rogán failed to appear at a hearing last Friday because he was giving an “urgent interview” to a tabloid paper in Germany. His absence was criticised in the media, where he was accused of having fled the country to avoid facing his accuser Portik.
The hearing is part of a broader defamation lawsuit filed by Rogán against Együtt politician Péter Juhász, who accused him of corruption and doing business with known criminals. Portik was called by Juhász as a witness to substantiate his claims that Rogán is a criminal.
According to a statement given by Rogán’s lawyer Dr. László Kovátsis, “In other earlier proceedings, when the court saw it necessary, he always appeared, whether as a plaintiff or a witness, and naturally in the future he will appear and give statements before the court,” reports Index.hu.
“He definitely wants to explain his position to the authorities,” Kovátsis added.
Rogán intends to formally denounce Portik’s claims as soon as the current defamation trial has ended, and has not ruled out initiating a civil lawsuit against him as well, Dr. Kovátsits wrote in a letter.
Rogán will have to appear before the court sooner or later, and he doesn’t have unlimited free passes for excusing himself from proceedings. According to the City Tribunal, the court can require him to appear in person numerous times, and “the needs for a statement determine how many times he can excuse himself.” If he consistently fails to appear, it will be to his detriment, the Tribunal added.
It is unclear what kind of statement Rogán plans when he finally does appear before the court concerning his alleged relationship with Portik. In order for an investigation to be initiated over substantiation of Portik’s claims, however, an official report of suspicion of a criminal offense would have to be presented to the judge, who would be required to act under Hungarian law, criminal law expert and Eötvös Loránd University lecturer Csaba Kabódi told Index.hu.