The Hunvald case: MSZP and SZDSZ politicians receive a total of 10 years in prison

The municipal court of Budapest sentenced György Hunvald, former MSZP MP and Socialist mayor of District VII, to 1.5 years imprisonment for his involvement in large-scale fraud, in an appealable ruling on Friday. The sentence left many wondering whether Hunvald would finally be able to fully enjoy all his assets, including his private jet, several homes and a fleet of luxury cars worth in excess of 1$ million. The prosecution appealed the verdict of 1.5 years asking the appelate court to confiscate Hunvald’s enormous wealth and sentence him in excess of 20 years in jail.

György Gál, former SZDSZ head of the district’s economic committee, was also sentenced, the liberal politician received a prison sentence of 8 years and 6 months. MSZP’s Hunvald and SZDSZ’s Gál thus received a total of ten years in prison for crimes committed while in office. Gál was sentenced for fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of authority, while the former mayor was found guilty of the two latter crimes. The MSZP and SZDSZ politicians were arrested during the latter stages of the previous Socialist government and many suspected that party rivals turned on them, making detainment and court proceedings possible under MSZP’s rule.

Out of the 13 defendants in the case, charged with defrauding the district hundreds of millions of forints in connection with the sale of municipal properties, former Socialist deputy Zoltán Szabó was also handed a six-month suspended prison sentence. Zoltán Szabó is now a member of DK, Ferenc Gyurcsány’s new party.

The discrepancy between the verdicts were visible. György Gál of SZDSZ got a sentence of 8.5 years, interestingly enough SZDSZ today is a defunct and utterly discredited party without any influence. György Hunvald of MSZP received only 1.5 years, while interestingly MSZP is a very significant party with sizable Parliamentary representation and a huge network of connections that stretches well beyond the borders of Hungary. This discrepancy caught the eye of a member of the European Parliament as well, who wrote about the case:

“György Gál messed this up horribly. If long ago he decides to join the Socialist party and sends Hunvald to SZDSZ then he could have walked away freely. Together with his several high value cars and his private plane (let’s stop for a minute here: how it is fucking possible that this Hunvald has/managed to own a plane? from his diligently saved mayoral salary? ) and Hunvald could sit in prison for eight and a half years. You have to choose your party well, Comrades!”

However the Hungarian justice system is not yet interested in such trivial questions as how Hunvald amassed his fortune. If I recall correctly the appellate court was similarly disinterested in the Zuschlag case. Zuschlag was another MSZP politician who turned out to be a criminal, he is still in prison. An interesting part of that case was that Zuschlag stole not for himself, he stole for the MSZP party. And yet when the trial came, he repaid every penny to the state, that he stole and asked the court for leniency. How Zuschlag was suddenly able to such an exorbitant sum, was never discovered but the lack of interest by the court was highly disturbing at the time as Zuschlag never had anywhere near that amount of money from legal sources. A payoff for keeping his mouth shut and not implicating any other MSZP politicians was rumoured at the time.

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