Updated: Parl’t Votes Down Proposal to Impeach President

  • 12 Jun 2024 11:05 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Updated: Parl’t Votes Down Proposal to Impeach President
Lawmakers rejected a proposal in a secret ballot on Monday to start proceedings to remove President Tamás Sulyok from office.

In a debate on the draft resolution submitted by the opposition Democratic Coalition, Christian Democrat MP Imre Vejkey, the head of parliament’s justice committee, said the committee recommended that parliament vote against initiating “the obviously baseless … and unworthy proceedings that only served campaign goals”.

He said the opposition parties that submitted the proposal had “put forward a deceitful opinion and came to an incorrect conclusion” regarding two matters.

Vejkey said such proceedings could only be initiated against a president who is found to have intentionally violated the constitution, broken a law or committed a crime. He added, however, that the justice committee had concluded that the allegations in the proposal “are not connected to Tamás Sulyok’s actions as president”. This, he said, ruled out “any basis for references to the intentional violation of the law”.

The lawmaker said the allegation that Sulyok had acted under a conflict of interest by taking his salary as head of the Constitutional Court was also unfounded, arguing that Sulyok suspended his activities as a lawyer during his time on the court and the cases he had worked on earlier were being taken care of by a deputy.

Vejkey noted that the complaint submitted by Klára Dobrev of the Democratic Coalition (DK) had been rejected by the regional investigative prosecutor’s office of Szeged.

DK lawmaker László Sebián-Petrovszki said the six opposition parties that had called for the proceedings against Sulyok believed there were documents proving that as a lawyer Sulyok had been involved in “illegally transferring Hungarian farmland to foreigners” in the early 2000s.

Sebián-Petrovszki said Sulyok had continued to be involved in such transactions even during his tenure as a constitutional judge.

He said the “pocket contracts” used in the transactions had never been legal, and regardless of whether or not the statute of limitations for the case had expired, the president “shouldn’t commit intentional crimes in the present and shouldn’t have committed them in the past, either”.

In a secret ballot, lawmakers rejected the proposal to impeach the president with 41 votes in favour and 132 votes against.

Prosecutor's Office Rejects DK Complaint Concerning President Sulyok

The regional investigative prosecutor’s office of Szeged, in southern Hungary, has thrown out a criminal complaint filed by the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) in connection with alleged abuse of office, fraud, and other purported crimes involving President Tamás Sulyok.

The central investigative chief prosecutor’s office (KNYF) said in a statement on Thursday that Klára Dobrev, MEP and shadow prime minister of DK, had accused Sulyok of illegally taking his salary as a constitutional judge between 2014 and 2019, having failed to report a conflict of interest, thus “committing fraud and abuse of office”.

The prosecutor’s office, however, ascertained that Sulyok had informed the chamber of lawyers of Szeged that he would suspend his activities as a lawyer after being nominated for the Constitutional Court post.

At the chamber’s enquiry in 2019, Sulyok again stated that he was not active as a lawyer, the cases he had earlier worked on being taken care of by a deputy, the office said in its statement.

The prosecutors established that Sulyok had not worked as a lawyer during his tenure at the top court, so had not committed fraud or abuse of office and received his salary lawfully, the statement said.

Concerning farmland agreements Dobrev referred to in her complaint, the prosecutor’s office said “possible activities concerning those agreements cannot be subject to an investigation due to the expiry of the statute of limitations”, but the office added that they would “examine if it is necessary or possible to take a civil action”.

Process to Remove President Sulyok from Office Started by Opposition DK

Klára Dobrev, who heads the party list of the Democratic Coalition-Socialists-Párbeszéd alliance in the European Parliament elections, has called for parliament to start proceedings to remove President Tamás Sulyok from office.

Speaking at an online press conference on Sunday, Dobrev asked MPs of DK, Párbeszéd and the Socialist Party to initiate the proceedings in Parliament along with the MPs of the other “democratic parties”.

She noted that DK had submitted all evidence to the chief prosecutor and filed a criminal complaint on suspicion of high-value fraud and abuse of office in a case involving President Sulyok, and had written to the deputy head of the Constitutional Court that Sulyok should be made to repay the salary he “unlawfully took as Constitutional Court judge due to the conflict of interest”.

If the president will not resign, she said, he could be forcibly removed from office by parliament, but initiating that procedure requires support from one-fifth of MPs.

Dobrev noted that her party had already started collecting the signatures and they were waiting to see how ruling Fidesz would vote at the end of the procedure.

Hungarian Lawyers' Chamber 'Shocked' by Accusations Levelled at President

The Hungarian Lawyers’ Chamber has said it was “shocked” that a political party had called President Tamás Sulyok a “common criminal” and “servant of the land mafia” over his previous work as a lawyer.

In a statement on Monday, the chamber said it was “deeply concerning” that “in the heat of the political battles” political players were making accusations that “seriously harm public trust in not just the office of the president but also the legal profession”.

The chamber said it was convinced that Sulyok’s work as a lawyer had been held in “high public esteem”.

It added that the president had always stood up for lawyers’ and the chamber’s independence in his academic work and during his time as a Constitutional Court judge, which he considered fundamental pillars of the rule of law and public trust.

It was this public trust, they said, that had been “attacked with the aforementioned harsh statements”.

They added that the Lawyers’ Chamber always took the necessary action against lawyers who violated the laws or ethics rules pertaining to them, and would also take action against the “unworthy attacks” made against lawyers in the interest of protecting public trust in the profession.

MTI Photo: Márton Mónus


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Resignation of President Sulyok Demanded by Opposition for Alledged 'Farmland Crimes'

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