Court Dismisses Rogán Defamation Suit Against Péter Juhász

  • 27 Jan 2017 7:38 AM
Court Dismisses Rogán Defamation Suit Against Péter Juhász
A first-level court has dismissed a defamation suit filed by the 5th district government and the district’s former mayor Antal Rogán against Együtt (Together) co-chair, 5th district assemblyman and anti-corruption crusader Péter Juhász.

The court found that Juhász had rightfully alleged that Rogán was a “criminal” and “did business with criminals” in relation to an alleged real estate scam that took place under Rogán’s direction when he was mayor of the 5th district.

The suit has dragged on for two years, during which Rogán twice failed to appear for hearings. Juhász had claimed that Rogán, now the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and the so-called propaganda minister, had sold 5th district real estate at below market prices to businessmen close to Fidesz, including certain underworld figures.

Juhász produced convicted underworld figure Tamás Portik to testify that he had personally paid Rogán a HUF 10 million bribe (in euros) while the latter was mayor.

In the defamation lawsuit, Juhász had to prove that he had legitimate grounds for the accusations. While the court did not investigate the veracity of Portik’s claims, it did attempt to determine whether Rogán had done business with criminal figures in the undervaluing of 5th district properties, as Portik and Juhász alleged.

The court found that Rogán had indeed done business with circles connected to Portik, and that Juhász had made his claims based on factual information, thus the defamation suit was dismissed.

The court commented that as an opposition politician, Juhász had not only the right but the responsibility to be critical of his district’s real estate sales, and that the expression of his opinion could not be a punishable offense.

The judge stated that public debates must be conducted as openly as possible, and that fear of legal retribution for the public expression of opinion would be problematic. Juhász’s statements were not for their own sake, and not critical of Rogán personally, but rather of practices related to the sale of real estate under his direction, the court wrote.

Source: The Budapest Beacon

Republished with permission

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