Opposition politicians favor setting up special prosecutor for corruption cases

November 13, 2017

Opposition politicians favor setting up special prosecutor for corruption cases
Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt | Photo: Index.hu/Szabolcs Barakonyi

Együtt chairman Péter Juhász and Jobbik MP György Szilágyi agree that “more than a hundred” cases of corruption tied to the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition have not been investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt. The two politicians would like to see the establishment of a prosecutor’s office, independent of the influence of Polt, for investigating corruption-related crimes.

Juhász gave the example of real estate in Budapest’s posh District V being sold for well below market values to friends and family members of Fidesz officials, abuses against which Juhász, as a member of the District V council, brought numerous official complaints but which were never investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office.

As HirTV pointed out, numerous such cases were either never investigated, or investigated and dropped. Saudi businessman and now-deceased international fugitive Ghaith Pharaon managed last year to obtain a visa to Hungary, and even buy property next door to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán while he was being sought by both the FBI and Interpol. No investigation was conducted into how such a visa was issued.

Or, as we reported last month, Polt confirmed that no investigation would take place into the dubious bank transfers to Hungarian bank accounts from an Azeri slush fund suspected of being used to unduly influence European politicians, journalists, and businessmen. By remarkable coincidence the multi-million-dollar transfers happened right around the time Orbán personally ordered the extradition of a convicted Azeri ax-murderer to his home country, where he was promptly pardoned and treated as a national hero.

“We had countless, several hundred cases in which Jobbik rightly filed a complaint, and usually the prosecutor’s office rejects almost every one of them,” Szilágyi told HirTV.

Polt will serve until at least 2019, owing to a  law Fidesz passed with its two-thirds parliamentary majority extending the term limit of chief prosecutor from six to nine years. According to Miklós Ligeti, legal director of Transparency International Hungary, if a new prosecutor is not elected with a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, “then the current elected chief prosecutor stays in office and practices his rights as chief prosecutor until a successor is elected with two-thirds.” Thus Polt, a former Fidesz politician, could remain in office past 2019.

Despite the two opposition politicians’ ideas concerning creation of an independent prosecutor, Polt will continue to preside over all the country’s most serious legal cases. He cannot be replaced via democratic means and reports to nobody but himself. As he cannot be the subject of an investigation, there are no consequences for him failing to initiate an investigation, even in cases that clearly warrant this.

“If the prosecutor’s office wants to stay passive, not investigate, not file charges, there is no state organ to petition and no way to challenge the behavior of the prosecutor,” Ligeti said.