Hungary's justice minister resigns

The prime minister said Sunday that the justice minister resigned and the national and Budapest police chiefs were dismissed in an effort to restore public confidence in the force after cases accusing officers of rape, corruption and theft.

Hungary's justice minister resigns
The prime minister said Sunday that the justice minister resigned and the national and Budapest police chiefs were dismissed in an effort to restore public confidence in the force after cases accusing officers of rape, corruption and theft.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said he sought the changes after five officers were suspended after being accused of raping a woman on May 4 while on duty in downtown Budapest. The officers have not been charged.

Justice Minister Jozsef Petretei, National Police Chief Laszlo Bene and Budapest Police Chief Peter Gergenyi will leave their posts as of May 31, Gyurcsany told Parliament, adding that he would soon announce candidates to replace them.

"It is our joint task that peace and confidence define Hungary," Gyurcsany said, but added that it seemed the police did not have "sufficient strength nor energy to protect themselves and their (institution's) internal order."

The main opposition party, Fidesz, had demanded that the justice minister and police chiefs leave office after the rape accusations surfaced — the latest in a string of allegations against members of the force.

Last week, 13 police officers and three others were detained on suspicion of corruption. Prosecutors said the officers would tell motorists stranded on highways to call only certain towing services, the owners of which paid the police for the referrals.

Earlier this month, a Budapest police officer was dismissed from the force after being convicted of stealing more than $2,100 while supervising a cash count at a bank where there had been an attempted robbery. A court ordered the officer to pay back the money and gave him a suspended jail sentence.

Gyurcsany suggested Sunday that the police had become a target of criticism since September, when violent protests broke out nationwide after the premier was heard on a leaked recording saying the government had lied about the economy.

Petretei's resignation still must be accepted by Hungary's president. If approved, Petretei would be the second minister to leave the Socialist-led coalition government since it was formed in June.

Former Health Minister Lajos Molnar resigned in April without giving reason, though many suspected he had disagreed with other government officials about implementing health reforms.

Last Mod: 21 Mayıs 2007, 10:53
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