Senior justice ministry official resigns over bribery charges

Pal Volner, the state secretary of the ministry of justice, has resigned after the chief prosecutor's office asked parliament to lift his immunity so he can defend himself against charges of receiving bribes on a regular basis.

Volner’s lawyer said on Tuesday that his client had not committed any crimes and he had carried out his duties as a state secretary and ministerial commissioner lawfully. However, Volner would “take political responsibility and tender his resignation today,” his lawyer added in a statement.

According to the charges, Volner illegally received sums of 2-5 million forints (EUR 5,500-13,700) from the president of the branch of bailiffs over a sustained period of time.

In response, at a joint press conference opposition politicians called on Justice Minister Judit Varga to resign.

Parbeszed deputy group leader Olivio Kocsis-Cake called the affair “the most serious corruption scandal of the government”, saying that it involved a state secretary who “had ordered the surveillance of persons”. “Varga’s role should also be assessed because it was her who authorised the state secretary’s actions,” he said.

Socialist deputy group leader Tamas Harangozo said the case demonstrated “how thoroughly corrupt [ruling] Fidesz’s regime” was.

Jobbik lawmaker Tibor Nunkovics called on Volner to resign from his mandate in parliament and DK lawmaker Laszlo Szakacs described Volner “as a key player in the Pegasus affair”.

Momentum spokesman Marton Tompos and LMP group leader Lorant Laszlo Keresztes said Varga had to resign because she should take responsibility for what had happened in the ministry.

Ruling Fidesz responded as saying that the opposition left “showed no sign of being ready to clarify the corruption surrounding the sale of Budapest City Hall and other cases of corruption”. It said in a statement that Gergely Karacsony, the mayor of Budapest, “had been hiding away” for weeks from clearing the affair while “it has become clear that there is a mafia operating in the City Hall”. The ruling parties will support lifting Volner’s parliamentary immunity because the state secretary “has to clear himself”, Fidesz said.

Karacsony said a screening committee had to be set up in order to assess the systemic problems in connection with the “often cruel and inhumane” execution of claims included in court decisions. Karacsony, who is also co-leader of Parbeszed, said on Facebook that the committee must also reveal if there were any political ties involved in the case and assess the reasons behind “the outstandingly large number of forced evictions under the Orban government”.

Leave a Reply