Hungarian court denies compensation to family of wrongly convicted Romani man

05 September 1999

The Roma Press Center reported on July 2, 1999, that the town court of Eger had rendered a first-instance verdict in the case of Mr Dénes Pusoma, a Romani man who spent two and a half years in prison for a crime that the court found subsequently he didn't commit. The court decided against awarding any compensation to Mr Pusoma's family, who are pursuing the case in the wake of Mr Pusoma's death. Mr Pusoma was convicted of murdering an elderly woman during a robbery in the village of Bükkszenterzsébet, in northeastern Hungary in the spring of 1994. In April 1995, the county court of Heves sentenced him to six years in prison. One year later, evidence was uncovered that exonerated Pusoma and he was released. In 1996 he requested 2.6 million Hungarian forints (approximately 10,300 euros) in compensation from the Hungarian state. Following his release he was unable to find employment or to resume a normal life. While his case was pending he committed suicide. His family has maintained his demand for compensation.

According to Ms Bea Bodrogi of the Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), the organisation representing Mr Pusoma's family, the decision of the Eger court is typical of Hungarian courts; the majority of cases requesting compensation for people who are wrongly convicted are turned down. However, unusual in this case is the fact that Mr Pusoma's family has been ordered to bear the costs of the proceedings, said Ms Bodrogi. According to the Roma Press Center, the family intends to appeal the case.

(Roma Press Center, NEKI)


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