Sunday, September 18, 2022

Racist Roma Murders - Who wants the case closed?

 The series of right-wing attacks in 2008/2009 was the gravest set of crimes committed in Hungary's recent history.  The perpetrators ambushed their victims, set their homes on fire and then shot them as they sought to escape the flames. Or they killed them in their sleep. In all, the neo-Nazi group killed six people, among them a small child, and injured a further 55, most seriously. The only motivation for their crimes was the fact that their victims were Roma.

The case of Hungary's Roma murders was never entirely solved. Nevertheless, three perpetrators were handed life sentences in 2014, and an accomplice was given 13 years in prison. Still, despite ample evidence of their guilt — including DNA samples collected at various crime scenes — all of the men involved were unflinching in their claims of innocence. Only one of the four, Arpad Kiss, considered the leader of the group and the main suspect in the case, ever spoke of the crime in public, each time proclaiming his innocence. Now, some 13 years on, out of the blue, he has given a confession. 

But that wasn't the only statement that made the interview so remarkable. For the first time, Kiss publicly confirmed what most who have followed the case long suspected: accomplices and supporters enabled the murders by providing cash, guns and logistics. In the interview, Kiss referred to two helpers: A local politician from the far-right Jobbik party, and an employee at a gun shop who apparently had access to confidential information from the Interior Ministry through a relative. Kiss did not name names, nor did he offer further information, though he claimed to have provided details on both accomplices to Hungarian investigators back in 2020. But official investigations went nowhere. 

"We were held responsible, but those two went free," said Kiss.

Although the Roma murders represent a uniquely racist, far-right crime spree, reaction to the interview has been nonexistent. A few media outlets offered short summaries, but neither Orban or his fellow Fidesz politicians have addressed it, nor has anyone from the opposition party. Journalists have also remained silent.

"No political side in Hungary has any interest in completely investigating and solving the Roma murders, that is consensus," filmmaker and journalist Andras B. Vagvolgyi told DW. Vagvolgyi is one of the few people who know the case inside and out. He attended the trial over the course of years, and published a book on the crimes in 2016. Vagvolgyi is convinced that a fundamental investigation into the case could prove the perpetrators had accomplices in the security and intelligence communities. He said a general lack of will to get to the bottom of the case, as well as a latent antiziganism, are both impeding closure. "Many politicians have told me that people should finally just forget about it,"

Liberal ex-politician Jozsef Gulyas, who together with friends and acquaintances helps survivors of the crimes, agrees. "Sadly, hardly anyone is still interested in the case. The victims are all but forgotten," he told DW. Gulyas was a member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that investigated the case back in 2009 and 2010. "In light of Arpad Kiss' public statements," said Gulyas, "the most important thing now would be to open a new investigation and demand intelligence agencies turn over whatever information they have on the case."  

Istvan Csontos, an informant for the Hungarian military's KBH security office, also happened to be the getaway driver in the last two attacks. He reportedly informed his contact at the KBH of his role, but that information is said to have not been passed on. 

Hungary: Shocking confession in Roma murder case garners zero interest | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.09.2022

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