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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BUDAPEST1209 2008-12-18 13:31:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Budapest
Cable title:  

MAGYAR GARDA - THE LONG-AWAITED COURT RULING

Tags:   PGOV PHUM SOCI HU 
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VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUP #1209 3531331
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181331Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3708
INFO RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0009
RUEHSL/AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA 1041
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 1435
RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA 0047
					  UNCLAS BUDAPEST 001209 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CE JAMIE LAMORE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI HU
SUBJECT: MAGYAR GARDA - THE LONG-AWAITED COURT RULING

REF: BUDAPEST 673 AND PREVIOUS



1. Summary. The Budapest Municipal Court ruled December 16
to disband the Magyar Garda Association. The Association
will appeal the ruling. However, the Magyar Garda Movement,
not a legal entity under the law, remains in place with
potential anti-Roma demonstrations likely down the road. End
summary.



--------------------------


Magyar Garda Gone - Maybe


--------------------------





2. On December 16 the Budapest Municipal Court, concluding a
nine-month on-again, off-again trial, finally ruled on the
case brought by the Chief Prosecutor's Office to disband the
extreme right-wing Magyar Garda. A key element of the trail
centered on the fact that the Magyar Garda Association is a
legally registered entity under Hungarian law. Although the
MGA leader and right-wing Jobbik party President Gabor Vona
established a "Magyar Garda Movement" - which is not a legal
entity - earlier this year in an attempt to circumvent the
legal definition, the Court ruled that both entities are
directly linked, in particular through financial donations.
As evidence, the Prosecutor provided a secretly recorded
video clip showing Vona explaining to the MGA national
assembly in September the connection between the Association
and the Movement. In response, Vona, who claims there is no
legally binding connection between the two entities, has now
filed a law suit claiming the video violated his right to
privacy.



3. Continuing, the Court ruled to disband the Magyar Garda
Association (MGA) that came into existence in August 2007,
finding that the MGA's founding documents' expressed purpose
is to preserve Hungarian culture but that their actions
actually violated the Hungarian Law on Associations.
Specifically, the Court cited a MGA rally in the town of
Tatarszentgyorgy in March 2008, when members of the
para-military group intimidated the Roma inhabitants, calling
"gypsy crime" a threat requiring the MGA's response. The
Court stated that the anti-Roma atmosphere created by the MGA
violated the human dignity of the Roma minority as well.
Following the decision, the MGA lead lawyer said the
Association will appeal the ruling, delaying a final decision
on the fate of the Magyar Garda Association until 2009.



4. The trial drew considerable public and media attention
and was delayed in early September when the presiding judge
stepped down after receiving threats. Although far-right
demonstrators attended each court session, their response to
the Court's decision so far has been without incident,
perhaps influenced by a significant police presence in and
around the court house. In an incident prior to the Court
decision, one of the Magyar Garda's key leaders, Attila Szabo
and his wife were attacked in their home by three intruders
the evening of December 15. The Szabos, not surprisingly,
both claim that the attackers were Roma but that has not been
confirmed by law enforcement authorities.



--------------------------


Potential Demonstrations Ahead


--------------------------





5. Even if the court's ruling stands on appeal, we still
anticipate further anti-Roma demonstrations, as the Magyar
Garda Movement is not affected by the Court's decision. Vona
made a calculated and clever decision to establish the Magyar
Garda Movement earlier this year. With only ten members in
the Association, but well over 1500 in the Movement, the
Magyar Garda will continue to draw support. It may even grow
as the current economic situation exacerbates the financial
situation of many Hungarians, in particular, those in the
smaller villages and towns away from Budapest with a
significant Roma population. The court's decision is legally
correct and politically important - but it will not in itself
put an end to the Garda.
Foley