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Hungary Prosecutor May Get Power to Hand-Pick Judges for Trials

Hungary’s chief prosecutor should be able to select judges for trials, according to a legal amendment submitted by Laszlo Salamon, the ruling-party head of Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The chief of the newly created National Judicial Agency would have the same power, according to the amendment submitted yesterday and posted on Parliament’s website. The amendment is needed to reduce the burden on some courts and ensure trials move ahead expeditiously, according to the text released today.

Hungarian lawmakers elected new top justices yesterday as part of a judicial overhaul that will oust Supreme Court Chief Andras Baka, the latest move that critics say erodes checks and balances under Premier Viktor Orban. Parliament elected Tunde Hando, a judge specialized in labor disputes and the wife of Jozsef Szajer, a ruling party member who helped rewrite the Constitution, as head of the judicial agency.

Since coming to power last year, Orban has curbed the power of the Constitutional Court, written a new Constitution, replaced an independent Fiscal Council with one dominated by his allies, created a media regulator led by exclusively ruling party appointees and chose a member of his party to lead the State Audit Office. Orban’s ruling party lawmakers have a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

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