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Corruption case trial of former officials begins

Pal Volner, a former justice ministry state secretary, and Gyorgy Schadl, the former head of the Hungarian Chamber of Bailiffs, appeared in court on Friday to answer charges of corruption.

Prosecutors allege that Schadl regularly bribed Volner until July 2021 and used his influence to secure the appointment of bailiffs of his choosing in exchange for kickbacks.

Charges of corruption, property crimes and money laundering have been filed against a total of 22 people in the case.

According to the indictment, Schadl paid Volner a total of at least 83 million forints (EUR 217,000) in bribes between May 2018 and July 2021, who then exercised his influence as state secretary and deputy minister in Schadl’s interest.

Both former officials deny the charges.

At Friday’s preliminary hearing at the Budapest Municipal Court, prosecutor Gabor Boros said Volner, in exchange for the bribes, had moved to appoint bailiffs pushed by Schadl and obtain state support for one of Schadl’s companies.

He said Schadl had obtained more than 924 million forints in kickbacks from the bailiffs he helped get appointed.

The prosecution has proposed that Volner receive an eight-year prison term and a 25 million forint fine, while it is seeking a ten-year prison sentence and a 200 million fine for Schadl. It has also proposed that both former officials be permanently banned from exercising professions requiring a law degree, and from public affairs for 10 years.

Several of the defendants confessed to their roles in the case at the hearing.

The trial is set to continue on Tuesday and Thursday next week.

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