Mahir takes poster kiosk case to European courts

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Photo: MTI Zoltán Balogh

The German owner of Hungary media firm Mahir Cityposter Kft. has turned to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to fight what the company says is the unlawful removal of its poster kiosks, news portal hirtv.hu reported today.

Municipal workers remove Mahir poster kiosks on January 2. (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

Last year, Budapest’s Municipal Council set a deadline of December 31 for the removal of 700 poster kiosks owned by Mahir Cityposter, which has ties to media mogul Lajos Simicska, according to reports. The company did not carry out the order and as such the city began dismantling the kiosks and said it would forward to the incurred costs to Mahir.

The company’s legal representative claims that the 25-year contract signed with the city in 2005 for the management of the kiosks is in fact still valid, hirtv.hu reported, adding that removing these kiosks is punishable by law and could result in an eight-year prison sentence.

The Prime Minister’s security advisor reportedly said earlier that he would enlist the help of the armed forces if necessary to dismantle the kiosks, which the city began removing yesterday before the final judgment on the termination of the contract was passed. Budapest’s local government had enlisted the help of police over the weekend when security teams hired by Mahir tried to prevent the removal of the kiosks, MTI reported on Sunday.

A long-time ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Simicska, had a public falling out with the prime minister and the ruling Fidesz party earlier this year. Since then, Simicska has been losing valuable contracts with officialdom: Közgép, the construction company that Simicska owned, and that used to win more money in Hungarian government procurement tenders than any other firm, has stopped getting contracts. And, more recently, Metropol, a free newspaper in which Simicska has ownership, lost a license for distribution in the capitalʼs Metro stations.

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