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HHRF Alert

Montreál, július 27.

Hungarian Human Rights Foundation [info@hhrfnewsletter.org]

"Ethnic Hungarians Attila Markó and Tamás Marosán Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment on False Charges in Romania:

European Parliament MPs Poised to Suspend Romania's Voting Rights
over Rule of Law Violations

On June 28, Attila Markó and Tamás Marosán were handed down three-year prison sentences on false charges of "official abuse of power" following several show trials that began nearly a year ago. On July 3, U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein expressed "deep concern" about the state of democratic institutions in the country in response to the apparent constitutional unraveling of the state.

[1] As prominent members of the country's largest national minority, the two ethnic Hungarians had advocated tirelessly for the return of properties-illegally confiscated under communism-to their rightful owners, the four historic Hungarian churches. Markó is the only ethnic Hungarian civil servant in the Romanian Special Committee on Church Property Restitution, and Marosán, was formerly legal counsel to the Hungarian Reformed Church. The men's ordeal began on December 22, 2010 when Markó

[2] was charged along with co-defendants Marosán and Silviu Clim by the Romanian Anti-Corruption Prosecutor for their 2002 decision to restore the Székely Mikó Reformed High School in Sfantu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy to its rightful owner, the Hungarian Reformed Church.

Throughout the past year the defense debunked the state's patently absurd charge that the decision to restore title was somehow based on "invalid" or "unacceptable" documentation and irrefutably proved that the Hungarian Reformed Church legitimately owed the property from 1870 until its seizure by the communists in 1948. Since a judge cannot just ignore such obvious proof, "I feel that some sort of outside power influenced this decision. Naturally I have no proof of this, but I'm convinced that a decision of this nature has to have come from somewhere," stated Markó upon learning of his sentence.
"This decision is a total violation of the rule of law and one of the most underhanded attacks against the Hungarian community" said Hunor Kelemen, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania.

In a brazen attempt to incite ethnic hostilities, the court issued the third defendant a suspended three-year sentence. Silviu Clim, former Ministry of Justice official and an ethnic Romanian, has been placed on five-year probation. The court found his culpability limited and leniency in order because-according to the official line-Clim was "led astray" by the two Hungarians who translated church property documents into Romanian for him.

The True Crime: Depriving Minority Churches of their Properties for Nearly a Generation
These convictions have served to terrify Romania's Hungarian community and other religious denominations. "From this moment onward, any law can be overturned, and the country can easily slide back into conditions reminiscent of Communism or of even worse times," warned Béla Kató, Deputy Bishop of the Hungarian Reformed Church, on July 3. All the while, the true crime is masked: the gross, systemic miscarriage of justice in the failure to return religious properties to their rightful owners that by now has affected an entire generation [See Table below].

  • In the past two years, the Special Restitution Committee that should be processing religious property claims has not even convened. Prior to that, it met twice in two years. Recently, the ongoing trial served as a convenient, official excuse as to why the committee wasn't able to process additional claims, revealed Bishop Kató. In an unconcealed pattern of contempt for private property and freedom of religion, and disregard for civil society, particularly minority communities, only one-third of all religious property claims submitted [4] have been processed in the 23 years since the fall of communism (2,400 of 7,568).
  • While members of a minority group are scapegoated and their institutions deprived, the majority Romanian Orthodox Church is singularly favored. In the town where the high school in question is located, the Hungarian-majority inhabited Sfintu Gheorghe for example, the Orthodox church was bestowed a former Romanian National Bank building to which it had no claim or right. Meanwhile, in addition to the three unjust convictions, the Hungarian Reformed Church has been fined 1.1 million lei [$296,000] in damages by the state, conveniently ignoring the fact that the church has invested double that amount in restoration since the high school building was restituted 7 years ago. "Everyone should view this decision, as if they themselves had been convicted," said the mayor, Árpád Antal.

International Concern Expressed

Already in July 2011, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt of Ohio had expressed her concern for the case at a Congressional hearing, requesting that the U.S. State Department closely follow the trial, and raised the possibility of sending an Embassy observer, which it did not do. Back in 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives had called on the government of Romania to accelerate restitution of properties illegally confiscated from the Jewish community, the four historic Hungarian churches and the Greek Catholic Church. House Resolution 191, a bipartisan effort, goes unheeded by the Romanian government to this day.

Meanwhile in response to unfolding, grave violations of the rule of law and constitutionality in the country, on July 5, Markus Ferber, MEP of the German delegation of the largest faction in the European Parliament, the European People's Party, stated they will initiate the proceedings to suspend Romania in the European Council for being unable to comply with the minimum standards in the functioning of state. "I am quite worried about the current situation in Romania. What is happening there is against the spirit and principles of the European Union. I will contact the European Commission and European institutions to take all necessary measures to revoke Romania's voting right in the European Council," said Markus

[5] . Recent events in Romania will be scrutinized and assessed in the "Cooperation and Verification Mechanism" that has been initiated and the forthcoming report could recommend use of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty.

On July 4 the three defendants, who are at liberty, appealed their sentences to the Ploiesti Appellate Court.

HHRF calls on the Romanian authorities to immediately drop all charges against Attila Markó, Tamás Marosán, and Silviu Clim, overturn their sentences and acquit them of any and all wrongdoing. Furthermore, the state should drop all fines and fees against the Hungarian Reformed Church in connection with the Székely Mikó High School and insure that the rightful owner remain in possession of the building. The travesty of justice that has been committed against the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian community by depriving them of their religious institutions must end. The deliberate protraction of restoring properties to their rightful owners should cease and all obstacles to restituting the remaining 5,168 properties need to be removed. Clearly, the path that the Romanian state embarked on in 2002 with the passage of Law 501 has failed whether deliberately, neglect or by weight of its inherent flaws. The Romanian government needs to summon the political will to chart a fundamentally new course, with the inclusion of international experts, to complete full restitution within a year.
Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Total Number of Church Property Claims Submitted


Total Number of Claims decided since 2002


Percentage of claims to yet be decided

66 percent

Number of years it will take the Committee to finish the claims

19 years

The Special Committee has not met in the past two years


Number of years elapsed since first property
was illegally confiscated

63 years

Number of property claims submitted by the four
historic Hungarian denominations


Number of claims decided


Percentage of claims yet to be decided

44 percent

Since 1990, the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation has consistently monitored the status of 2,140 properties confiscated from the Roman Catholic, Hungarian Reformed, Lutheran and Unitarian Churches, the dominant religious affiliation of the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian minority in Romania. The New York-based Foundation regularly updates reports tracking Romanian legislation and implementation; testifies in Congress, and maintains a database on the status of all Hungarian-related properties.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/04/world/europe/romania-impeachm ent/index.html
[2] Continues to be State Secretary for Minority Affairs and also heads the Department for Inter-Ethnic Relations.
[3] On May 24, 2002, Marko, Marosán and Silviu Clim (a former councilor for the Ministry of Justice) issued Decision No. 58 in their capacity as members of the Special Committee and thereby restituted the building to the Hungarian Reformed Church. This alleged "crime," supposedly caused the state significant "damages" to the order of 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million dollars) and justified seizure of their assets on Christmas Eve 2010. In fact, the men were acting legitimately by implementing Romanian Government Emergency Decree 83/1999 and auxiliary government order 1334/2000 brought for property restitution. The defendants' assets have subsequently been returned.
[4] The Romanian Parliament finally passed Law No. 501/2002 to specifically address the restitution of properties illegally confiscated from religious denominations under communism in the period 1945-1989.


Keresztyén testvéregyházak, emberjogi szervezetek figyelmébe ajánljuk a következő esetet, hogy lehetőségeikhez mérten tájékoztassák az illetékes állami, és államok fölötti szervezeteket egy Európai Unión belüli (Romániai) koncepciós per monitorizálása érdekében. A monitorizálás elsősorban a törvényesség betartását garantálhatná egy rendkívül kényes esetben. A elmúlt években több alkalommal elmarasztalta már Romániát a strassbourgi Európai Emberjogi Bíróság. Romániában politikai befolyás miatt is gyakran áthágják az érvényben levő jogszabályokat.
Az erdélyi magyar kisebbség  felét alkotó 750.000 lelket számláló romániai Református Egyházat próbálják lejáratni, és egy nem létező bűntény "elkövetésében" bűnpártolóvá és haszonélvezővé tenni. Ugyanakkor 3 személy ellen hivatali visszaélés vádjával büntetőpert indítottak, zárolva az érintettek vagyonát.

A vád szerint a 3 három vádlott alkotta kormányközi bizottság (Markó Attila, Clim Silviu és Marosán Tamás) szándékosan elferdítve a valóságot, jogtalanul állapította meg, hogy az egykori sepsiszentgyörgyi Evangéliumi Református Székely Mikó Kollégium a református egyház tulajdonát képezte és a 2002 májusában általuk kiállított jegyzőkönyv alapján az egykori iskola épületét az Erdélyi Református Egyházkerület tulajdonába helyezték. A vissza szolgáltatási jogszabály (1999. évi 83. számú sürgősségi kormányrendelet, amely a 266. számú hivatalos közlönyben jelent meg 1999.jún.10-én) értelmében az ingatlanokat azon egyházaknak, illetve kissebségi szervezeteknek kellett visszaadni, akiktől a kommunista állam elkobozta őket. Az igazság kiderítésére a legegyszerűbb mód az, ha ellenőrizzük, kitől vette el a kommunista állam a szóban forgó épületet. Az 1948. évi 176. államosítási Dekrétum (amely a 177. számú hivatalos közlönyben jelent meg 1948.aug. 3-án) mellékletében többek között benne foglaltatik a szóban forgó iskola is (Sepsiszentgyörgy, Petőfi utca 1 szám alatt), azzal a megjegyzéssel, hogy a református egyháztól lett államosítva. Ezen kívül számos más bizonyíték (jogerős bírósági határozat is) is alátámasztja a Református Egyház jogosultságát az egykori református kollégiumi vagyon tulajdonlására.

Sepsiszentgyörgy város (az iskolaépület visszaszolgáltatás előtti tulajdonosa) törvényes képviselői (városi tanácsa, polgármestere) a perben is a Református Egyháznak való visszaszolgáltatás törvényessége mellett foglaltak állást.
2011 január 23-án Sepsiszentgyörgyön több ezer ember gyertyával tüntetett az iskola jogos tulajdonosa, a Református Egyház ügyét fenntartva. A tüntetésen részt vettek a helyi önkormányzat képviselői, a polgármester, városi tanácsosok és a helyi testvéregyházak képviselői is.

Megjegyezni kívánjuk, hogy a hatályban lévő törvények rendelkezése ellenére 2007 nyarától megszakadt a visszaszolgáltatási folyamat (sok egyházi ingatlant nem kaptunk még vissza), az említett koncepciós per éppen az egyházi visszaszolgáltatás leállítását célozta meg, és máig a restituciós folyamat befagyasztását szolgálja, sőt, a restitúció visszafordítására tesz kísérletet. Európai Uniós ország létére Romániában a jogbiztonság nincs garantálva.
Jelen felhívásunk célja korántsem az, hogy peren kívül keressük igazunkat, hanem a törvényesség betartása érdekében csupán a per széleskörű monitorizálását szeretnénk elérni. El kívánnánk kerülni azt a lehetőséget, hogy hosszú évek elteltével a strassbourgi Európai Emberjogi Bíróság teremtsen igazságot az ártatlanul meghurcolt személyek utólagos felmentésével és az egyházunk tulajdonának elismerésével.


2012 június 28-án a Buzaui Bíróság első fokon 3 év börtönre ítélte a restitúciós bizottság tagjait (Markó Attilát, Clim Silviut és Marosán Tamást), a Sepsiszentgyörgyi Református Székely Mikó Kollégium újraállamosítását, valamint 1.137.856 lej egyháztól való elkobzását rendelte el. Tekintettel arra, hogy a bizottság tagjai törvényesen jártak el, s a Református egyház jogosan kapta vissza egykori vagyonát (ezt állami jogszabályok és jogerős polgárjogi bírósági végzés is alátámasztja, melyeket igény esetén bárki rendelkezésére bocsátunk), az alapfokú ítélet egyszerűen gyalázatos!

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