The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled against Hungary in a non-final decision published on Tuesday involving a case of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.
In the case of Laszlo Magyar, convicted for homicide and robbery, the court ruled that his life sentence without parole and the conditions of his detention were degrading and therefore violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The Strasbourg court also stated that the length of the proceedings against Magyar, which lasted for eight years from 2002 to 2010, was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
As a result, the court ruled that the Hungarian state must pay Magyar a settlement of several thousand euros.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the court ruling “outrageous” and yet more proof that in Brussels and Strasbourg “the rights of those who have committed a crime come before the rights of innocent people and the rights of victims”. At a campaign event in Kormend, in western Hungary, Orban added that he firmly rejected the decision on behalf of the Hungarian government, adding that life imprisonment should be defended as an institution since it had a strong deterrent effect.
The ruling Fidesz party said in a statement that it continued to insist on the life sentence without parole, saying that anyone who takes another’s life must stay in prison indefinitely.
The provision on real life sentencing is part of Hungary’s new constitution “with the will of a decisive majority of Hungarian people.” Fully 94 percent of Hungarians supported it in a public consultation held on the draft constitution, Fidesz added.
The radical nationalist Jobbik called the court ruling “revolting”.
“We understand the logic that not even such criminals should be deprived of hope. But what about the hopes of victims, the rights of their relatives and the hope they had been deprived of for ever,” spokesman Adam Mirkoczki said.
Jobbik called on Fidesz to keep the clause on real life sentence in the penal code.
The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights reflects the long-held position of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and may result in changes to Hungarian law, the civil group told MTI.
Every detainee should have the right to the re-examination of their detention at certain, pre-determined intervals, the NGO said, commenting on the ruling, adding that a presidential pardon cannot be considered a real option in this context.
Currently 46 prisoners are serving a real life sentence in Hungary, 33 of them under a final verdict, the Hungarian Prison Service told MTI.