The Kecskemét Court has convicted former Fidesz MP and mayor of Fülöpháza József Balogh of assaulting his wife in 2013, reports Hungarian news site 444.hu.
The assault took place after Balogh and she returned from a wedding party. Initially Balogh claimed that he had fallen asleep after arriving home and had no recollection of what happened. Later the Fidesz politician said his wife sustained the injuries as a result of tripping over the couple’s blind dog, a Komondor.
The incident drew wide media attention and was eventually picked up by Hungarian prosecutors. It was during the trial that Balogh admitted he had been under the influence of alcohol when he assaulted his wife.
Although convicted of assault, the Kecskemét Court only fined him HUF 420,000 (USD 1,500). The court said Balogh’s outstanding behavior and (later) personal admission of the assault would make any prison sentence – even a suspended prison sentence – unnecessary. The ruling means Balogh need not resign his position as mayor of Fülöpháza.
According to the charges filed against Balogh, after the couple arrived home from the wedding, Balogh’s wife was packing food in the kitchen when Balogh knocked over a plate and started beating her. He only stopped when her son intervened. She went to a friend’s house with a bloodied face to ask for help. The friend said Balogh’s partner was not intoxicated.
Her injuries kept her in hospital for more than eight days, with a shattered nose, face and zygomatic bone.
Initially, Balogh offered the following account to Hungarian news site Index.hu:
“The truth is that during the week when the Komondor thing happened, I had been working really hard. I had to make presentations in parliament and around the area about rural life. Then I had to get ready for a wedding reception, I had to prepare and write a speech. Then, when I was finished with all of that, I was so restless I could hardly fall asleep. I took a sleeping pill, but that didn’t help. I tried to lay down, but I couldn’t fall asleep. So I went out and thought that Terike was leaving, and I told her not to leave because we had been drinking pálinká. I started to bring her inside. The Komondor didn’t know what we were doing, whether we were playing a game or something. So it jumped at us, we tripped over the dog and fell down. I got a really ugly injury on my elbow. This is probably when I punched Terike, but it was only an accident.”
Seeing how shaky Balogh’s story was, Fidesz dismissed him from the parliamentary fraction. He remained a member of parliament until the end of his term in 2014.
During the trial, prosecutors called on the judge to give Balogh a suspended prison sentence and order him to attend anger management therapy. The judge did not agree with the prosecutor’s calls and found Balogh’s late confession and eventual apology satisfactory enough.
Balogh was re-elected mayor of Fülöpháza in 2014. His attorney attributes this to the public’s trust in him.
He was the only candidate for mayor.