Fidesz MEP in doubt over retroactive amendment to criminal code

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A senior ruling Fidesz politician has said he does not see eye to eye with a plan to legislate retroactively to pave the way for the criminal trials of former prime ministers and their finance ministers on the ground that they allowed the public debt to spiral upwards, Népszabadság daily said on Tuesday.

Fidesz MEP József Szájer cast doubt over the proposal by Peter Szijjarto, deputy chairman of a parliamentary subcommittee assessing the reasons of the high public debt amassed between 2002 and 2010, to make Prime Ministers Péter Medgyessy, Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai, as well as their finance ministers, criminally liable for the debt by changing the Penal Code with retroactive effect.

Szijjártó, who is also the prime minister’s spokesman, said at the end of July that Hungary’s Socialist and Free Democrat governments had “politically sinned” against Hungary by pursuing bad economic policies and pushing debt from 53% of gross domestic product (GDP) to 80% by 2010.

The opposition Socialist and green opposition LMP parties have boycotted the subcommittee’s work from the start.

Szájer told the paper that he was “convinced” Szijjártó had not been thinking in terms of changing the Penal Code with retroactive effect, a procedure he said was without precedent, bar the Nurnberg trials.

The current Penal Code included provisions which could be brought to bear, and he suggested a legal solution such as assessing the “grave damage caused to society”.

Legal expert Gergely Gulyás told the paper that “in a self-respecting democratic state an investigation of measures resulting in amassed state debt is imperative, but within the current framework of the Penal Code.”

Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told commercial news channel HírTV last week that the legal responsibility of the previous prime ministers could in fact be identified within the framework of the current Penal Code.

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