Two Romanian citizens, Mr. István Beke and Mr. Zoltán Szőcs were arrested in November, 2015. They are ethnic Hungarians and local leaders of a group called Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom). The two man were charged with planning to detonate an improvised device during the December 1, 2015, National Day celebration in Targu Secuiesc (Kézdivásárhely in Hungarian), Romania.
The Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement is a far-right, neo-fascist organization based in Hungary and targets primarily the Roma population and gays. The movement’s leader is László Toroczkai. In 2008 Toroczkai was arrested at arrival at Toronto Pearson International Airport and immediately deported from Canada. It was reported that Toroczkai is on the “suspected terrorist” list for his alleged activities in the Yugoslav civil war. In Hungary he was elected mayor of a small border-town where he organized a militia “to hunt” for illegal migrants. Some members of his group are armed and could be dangerous.
Beke and Szőcs spent 11 months in pre-trial detention, followed by six months of house arrest. After searching Beke’s home, Romanian authorities found illegally-obtained pyrotechnic explosives and devices to build electronic triggers. On April 7, 2017 they were convicted and since the sentence already amounted to the time they had already served, the two men were released.
Both defense and prosecution teams appealed the verdict. The prosecution accused Beke and Szőcs of an aggravated charge of “attempted overthrow of the constitution order” and “incitement.” On July 4, 2018 they both were sentenced for a second time, now to five years imprisonment.
This was not the first bomb attack trial in Romania. In 1984 in the town of Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy in Hungarian) an explosive device was detonated at the town center. The handmade bomb misfired and killed an ethnic Hungarian child who was playing nearby. The accused bomb-maker, also an ethnic Hungarian, fled to Hungary. He was not extradited because he was protected by his double citizenship.
The New York-based Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF) is registered as a non-profit organization with a mission “to advocate for the human rights” of ethnic Hungarians who live in the countries surrounding Hungary. HHRF called upon the Romanian authorities “to immediately release Beke and Szőcs and exonerate them of all charges.”
HHRF is the brainchild of Paris-born 67-year-old Mr. László Hámos who has Hungarian ancestry. Hámos developed close relations with Hungary’s far-right government and raises funds in the US and also receives monies for various projects from Hungary. HHRF also participates in the Körösi Csoma Program; this year Mr. Viktor Ivicsics from Budapest is helping their work in New York.
Although HHRF has a website, it does not publish a physical address, a phone number, nor even an email address. According to public records it operates at 120 E90th St. #5D from an 895-square-foot condo.
Everybody, even fascist thugs, deserves proper legal process, a fair trial and a just sentence. In the Beke-Szőcs case Gabriel-Cristian Piscociu from the Romanian President’s office has made it clear that they have the right to ask for clemency from Romanian President Klaus Johannis. The law provides this option for them. However, Beke and Szőcs declined; instead they choose to be part of an international anti-Romanian publicity stunt orchestrated from Budapest. They are the willing poster-boys of a media campaign which claims that they are innocent and “heroes of the Hungarian cause” in Transylvania.
I find it highly disturbing that HHRF, an opaque US non-profit organization with Hungary’s support is lobbying in the United States for neo-Nazis as a “human rights” project. A couple of years ago I asked Mr. Hámos to reveal his organization’s finances; I never got an answer.
Attempting to detonate bombs is a serious crime in the United States. In a recent case, Cesar Sayoc tearfully apologized as he pleaded guilty to sending and threatening to send pipe-bombs to prominent US politicians. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and possibly as much as life behind bars.
It would be prudent for Mr. Hámos to explain who his organization represents in the US? Where does he get his funding? I have a feeling that the vast majority of Hungarian Americans reject this campaign and would never support members of the neo-fascist Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement.