The Age of Innocents

Read the abridged English version of a new book written by two prominent Hungarian investigative journalists on how the Hungarian criminal justice system worked or rather failed in the most prominent white collar crime cases since 1990, the year when – following the fall of communism - democracy, democratic police, prosecution and courts were reestablished in the country.

Although police investigation and prosecution – thanks to public pressure -followed in most of these crimes, the judicial system as a whole failed to grow up to the task: either the investigation was not well founded for indictment, or evidence was found to be too weak for a verdict. As a consequence in several cases the CEOs and the politicians who were to blame for billions of lost or stolen public and private money were acquitted or were sentenced to minor punishments and left the courthouse smiling in the cameras. Public disillusionment in the justice system, generally in democratic institutions and democracy as a whole is growing.

The authors submerged for months in the daily life of the Hungarian justice system, interviewed on the record or background dozens of police investigators, experts, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, and also studied police and court documents, expert reports, verdicts. Their goal was to find out why a complex system like the judiciary was unable to fulfill the expectations of a democratic public, to spot crime where and if there is crime, to find and punish those with criminal intentions and also to acquit those innocent.

Is it incompetence and pure judgement due to the sudden changes during the early 90s when capitalism was established on the ruins of a state-run economy and the judicial system was totally unprepared to understand the complex mechanisms of market economy? Is it the general malfunction of a system built on traditions which do not change fast? Or is it something more? Does corruption, money and politics also played a role since CEOs and politicians involved in these crime cases were among the most powerful personalities of the country?

Download the abridged English version here: Age of Innocents - Abridged English version

About the authors:

The two authors worked as editors of Manager Magazin, a monthly newspaper owned by the German Spiegel-group.

Éva Vajda is currently a free-lance journalist, writing for Index.hu, a news-portal. Earlier she worked for the Hungarian Public Radio, weeklies Magyar Narancs, Élet és Irodalom, and Népszabadság Online. She published a book (with co-author Attila Ószabó) consisting a collection of investigative articles on white collar crime cases. (Tényfeltúrás, Új Mandátum Kiadó, 2001) She was awarded for her investigative journalism several times: Tolerancia-prize (1999) és Göbölyös József Soma-prize (2006).

Attila Mong is currently a host at Inforádió, a news-radio station, he also writes for komment.hu. Earlier he worked for weekly business magazine, Figyelő, the Hungarian Public TV, and Public Radio. He published a book on K&H banking scandal, (Milliárdok mágusai, Vízkapu Kiadó, 2003, co-author Bence György) and was awarded with several prizes: Göbölyös József Soma-prize (2004), Pulitzer Memorial Prize (2003). His recent book (János vitéz a Gulagon, Helikon, 2008) is a historic investigation, it is about an event which took place in a war-torn village in Hungary in 1946, just after the Second World War.

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