Beat your wife up so much she has to go to hospital and then blame it on the dog, and you will only end up with a suspended jail sentence. This is the lesson learned from the trial of former Fidesz MP and mayor József Balogh, which merely fined him, before the appeals court finally handed down the stricter sentence. The day after the verdict, the politician resigned as mayor of Fülöpháza.
Tripping over the blind dog
The assault took place in 2013 after Balogh and his wife returned from a wedding party. Initially Balogh claimed he had fallen asleep after arriving home and had no recollection of what happened. Later the Fidesz politician said his wife sustained the injuries after 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.
According to the charges filed against him, after the couple arrived home from the wedding, Balogh’s wife was packing food in the kitchen when he knocked over a plate and started beating her. Balogh 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 wife was not intoxicated.
Seeing how shaky Balogh’s story was, Fidesz ejected him from the party’s parliamentary faction. He remained a member of parliament until the end of his term in 2014.
Suspended jail sentence
At the beginning of 2016, the Kecskemét court found Balogh guilty of assault, but the former MP was only fined HUF 420,000 (USD 1,500). The court said his outstanding behavior and (later) personal admission of the assault would make any prison sentence – even a suspended one – unnecessary. This also meant that he did not have to resign as mayor of Fülöpháza – until now.
The case finally continued at the appeals court, where a much stricter verdict was delivered, reports Hungarian news site Index.hu. This time, Balogh was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years. The judge said that, though she could have given a maximum of three years, she did not think it was necessary.
She listed the aggravating circumstances as well: the fact that the victim was a family member of Balogh and that she suffered serious injuries all contributed to the stricter sentence.
Although Balogh doesn’t have to go to jail, the suspended sentence costs him his political career. Under Hungarian law, people with suspended prison sentences cannot hold public office. Balogh resigned as mayor of Fülöpháza on Wednesday.
The politician did not appear in court but he issued a joint statement with his victim. According to Hungarian website Abcúg.hu, they both blamed the nation’s press for dramatizing the events.
“Both our lives were shattered by the cold malice and hatred of the press,” they said.