Civil activist and Slejm show host Márton Gulyás has been sentenced to probation for one year for ripping the sign of the National Election Office off the wall of the building, reports Hungarian news site 444.hu. The incident took place in late February following the scandal at the office when a group of skinheads prevented an opposition politician from being the first to submit a referendum question regarding the controversial Sunday store closure law.
The presiding judge found Gulyás guilty of truculence and also ordered him to pay HUF 41,800 (USD 146) in penalties and ruled that his hammer and screwdriver be seized.
According to the ruling, Gulyás’s actions went well beyond freedom of opinion and reached a point that not even Hungary’s constitution, the Fundamental Law, would protect. The judge reasoned that such behavior posed a threat to society because the activist continued to commit the crime despite being asked by the police to stop.
Gulyás and others were adhering small signs on the National Election Office which read “Due to the public administration reforms and in the interest of preventing further acts of disorderly conduct, this agency is now closed. Democracy has been suspended.” After the signs were put up, Gulyás grabbed some tools he had brought with him and pried the National Election Office’s sign off the wall of the building.
In his address to the court, Gulyás said he did so because the National Election Office has for the past two years undermined a fundamental democratic institution by continuously obstructing citizens from holding referendums.
Gulyás has no criminal background and the judge found this to be a positive factor when sentencing the activist. Both the prosecutor and Gulyás indicated they would appeal the decision — the former would seek a harder punishment, and the latter would like to be cleared of having committed any crime.