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Gönczöl committee to release riot report

An independent investigative committee set up to probe into the Budapest riots last September and October is due to officially unveil its findings today, daily Magyar Hírlap reports.

The committee, which consists of a panel of nine experts led by criminal lawyer Katalin Gönczöl, said the country’s entire political elite, the public media, and the social science professionals had their share of responsibility in the rioting that broke out last September after a secretly taped speech by PM Ferenc Gyurcsány was leaked to the press, in which he admitted lying about the state of the economy to win reelection.

The report criticized the police force for using excessive force against the demonstrators and said the deputy chief of the Budapest police had personal responsibility for the siege of public television headquarters, in which rioters looted the building and clashed with police injuring over 100 officers. The committee criticized the prime minister for underestimating the possible consequences of a speech he had made to members of his MSzP party, when it was leaked to the public, for not recognizing the signs of political crisis as it evolved, and for not responding appropriately.

It also noted that moves by the president to revolve the conflict were unfortunate, because his statements focused on moral crisis, created false images and did not improve the constitutional situation. The committee is proposing changes to the Free Assembly Act to ban demonstrations from the surroundings of the Parliament or limiting demonstrations for 24 hours. (Magyar Hírlap)