On Monday, April 3, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén (Christian Democratic People’s Party/KDNP) submitted a request to the National Assembly to approve an expedited procedure for the bill on higher education, then under consideration in Parliament. The request was approved by a 115-49 vote, and the bill, known as Lex CEU, was fast-tracked to a vote that Wednesday, when the National Assembly approved the modifications to the higher education law, sparking widespread international condemnation and weeks of protests in Budapest.
But international lawyer Tamás Lattmann has pointed out to investigative journalism NGO Átlátszó that at the time Semjén supposedly made his request he was not present in the Parliament, nor in Hungary at all. Semjén had traveled to the Iranian capital of Tehran on April 1, where he stayed a week with Iranian officials discussing a possible joint project to construct a nuclear reactor.
Semjén’s signature, however, appeared on the April 3 expedited procedure request, suggesting that it was forged.
According to Lattmann, such a forgery violates Hungary’s criminal code, which, if committed by a public official, carries a sentence of between one and five years imprisonment.
As Átlatszó pointed out, this is not the first time Semjén has been embroiled in scandal. A 2012 investigation by news site hvg.hu found that Semjén had plagiarized substantial portions of his university thesis and doctoral dissertation.