„Who is that animal?!” – would say András Kern or Géza Hofi in one of their parodies, or would be seen or heard on the stage of Mikroszkóp theatre or in the show of Heti Hetes.
Lately, in the criminal case of Gyula Papp, former commander KFOR the judgement has been passed with possibility of appeal. The judge imposed a penalty of 50,000 forints on him! In a democracy one has to be really careful in handling criticism of decisions of a judge, as faith in judges is a crucial point in the social structure. Of course, this fact cannot mean being without criticism. The authority of judges can also be mistaken which is proved by the changing judgements passed after appeals. I do not intend my thoughts conveyed below to be criticism, I convey them much rather in connection with the judgement, the antecedents of which became unacceptable for me. I am writing ½for me½, but apart from me, recently a lot of my friends have brought up the vilification case of Gyula Papp. The idea that as a Hungarian citizen, as a citizen of a democratic country they protest even against the possibility of a man’s undeserved slander in today´s Hungary without being punished constituted the main point of the thoughts of all of them. Without being punished, the anonymous official, abusing his authority, ruins human walks of life with his stupid and petty-minded acts of power and causes billion forint damage to our country, which is trying to prove its being democratic again. Annually, we spend ten billions of forints from the state budget to develop our country´s image, to make it more attractive. And then somebody comes, who knows why, who is angry with the commander KFOR with or without reason. It is unimportant for me what the source of this anger is. But it is not unimportant, where it is from and how this network of connections works which is able to have someone relieved, ordered home and continue this terrifying brainchild of human viciousness until the attorney´s accusation.
For me, the most important thing is man/the individual and human walk of life, which cannot be measured by money or billions of forints. However, it is easier to prove that this situation is quite absurd by mentioning that the arrogance of power with his misuse of authority does not even trouble about causing considerable damage not only to the individual but also to the authority investing him with power. Reading my and my friends´ thoughts in Sir Mike Jackson´s letter, who was the KFOR commander-in-chief in Kosovo at the time of Gyula Papp´s duty, was shocking for me. Instead of the words formulating in my mind during writing, I have to look for ½more moderate½ alternatives for my thoughts, and in spite of this, sentences expressing harsher, unusual of me emotions are written down. However, I take it upon myself now. I take it upon myself now, because when reading commander-in-chief Jackson´s letter, one who knows diplomacy´s compulsory and mostly excessive expectations of courtesy, has to realise the famously moderate English gentleman´s, belonging to the English aristocracy, astounding anger, which come through the lines of the letter.
In commander Jackson´s opinion, for composing charges against the Hungarian commander one needed ½perversion½, while he considers the groundlessness of charges to be a ½trivial½ legal situation. The International Community having indisputably more developed democratic traditions acknowledges the qualities, for which the indifferent jurists accuse the Hungarian commander of a crime, and they are obliged to him. I became a devotee of the English gentleman, who undertakes, if it is necessary, being ½calumniated over Europe½ by the Hungarian government but defends his soldier´s honesty even if he is an officer of an army of another country.
But who defends us, our honour, and the honour of Hungarian soldiers from those committing serious offences against our proudly undertaken Hungarian nationality? Who defends us at least from the possibility of someone´s doing it with us again. When will someone claim that a man who is capable of serving vile interests any time ½with perversion½ and lacks all sense of proportion concerning the adoption of law, is unsuitable for being a jurist. This person did not notice (or if he did and ignored it intentionally, he committed crime) the striking contradiction between the intention of the chapters of the criminal code condemning ½wartime looting½ and ½stealing½ and using debris of buildings, iron pipes after the bombing in Pristina for setting up the Hungarian KFOR camp quickly and improving its safety. I simply cannot imagine the public prosecutor, his colleagues or his superior preparing, writing and then signing these counts of indictment. I do not know them, neither their names nor their faces. In fact, I do not wish to get to know them.
I am convinced that until Gyula Papp´s court hearing of appeal, for those concerned and mainly for the superiors of those participating in the vile procedure there would be something to do. However, after the legally binding end of proceedings against the Hungarian commander, they can expect special responsibility.
Democratic law is not defenceless against people abusing law and their power. It knows the facts of the case as well as the termination of holding an office because of unsuitability. Thus it could be a proper line of thought to examine whether the application of law was well proportioned in the case of Gyula Papp. I wonder if the penalty of 50,000 forints (if the final judgement will be the same) is compatible with the offences which could justify the commander´s immediate replacement, his ordering home, indictment and committing him for trial threatening with a decade of imprisonment?!
Concerning the first, appealable judgement, I would like to give voice to my doubts moderately that the effective Hungarian law does not exclude the possibility of the court´s observation and statement of prejudiced procedure leading to the act of accusing and of the violation of the right to objective proceedings and of taking measures while being in doubts about the seemingly grounded counts of indictment and its evidence. At an American court, the total acquittal of the accused person would be compulsory due to biased procedure of investigation and accusation. Hungarian law does not make it obligatory but does not even exclude it. Nevertheless, such a decision of a judge would be incompatible with the judicial practice in today´s Hungary so it would be unusual but at the same time it would attract attention and, I think, it would be desirable.
At last, a thought must be written here owing to the lack of tolerance of most of the people in power. Nowadays, this lack of tolerance often leads to legal proceedings against those expressing criticism in order to protect the presumed and desired good reputation of power. All of my above thoughts were inspired by my honest opinion and indignation. I do not possess the stone of justice, thus as lacking all the details, the above written lines cannot be statements, I can even be mistaken in judging some of them. Also in this case, however, it can be true that in the act of accusation those accused by me have taken the advantage of publicity for a person´s vilification but they have not released the required information for making their truth acceptable. What they did, however, in effect, contravenes my rights to the legal security set forth in the Constitution and to my sense of it. Thus, the only means I could choose to defend my constitutional rights under these circumstances was also publicity and releasing my view.
2000. november 15. Palotás János