Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Dead Man Eating, Hungarian Style!

Prime minister says Hungary should consider reinstatement of death penalty

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Saying his opposition to the death penalty had been changed by a bloody bank robbery in which eight people were killed, outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday called for Hungary to reconsider its ban of the penalty.

Orban said he changed his mind about the death penalty — banned here since 1990 — when he met with relatives of those killed in the May 9 bank robbery, Hungary's most violent crime in recent memory.

Two robbers targeting a branch of Austrian Erste Bank in Mor, a small town 65 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Budapest, killed everyone inside the bank and left with 7.4 million forints (dlrs 27,400). The robbers remain at large.

"After what happened, our place should be among those European countries which say that applying the death penalty should again be a decision left to the jurisdiction of each country," Orban said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on state radio.

Orban acknowledged that reinstating the death penalty would keep Hungary outside the European Union which bans the penalty, but added that the EU could also change its position.