A Hungarian MEP in Viktor Orbán’s rightwing party, spotted fleeing along a gutter to escape police raiding a “sex party” above a Brussels bar, has apologised for breaching Belgium’s lockdown rules.
József Szájer, a senior member of the Fidesz party who helped write Hungary’s constitution in 2011, was one of about 20 people, mainly men and including at least two EU diplomats, who attended a party held near the Grand Place in the Belgian capital’s historical centre on Friday evening.
The MEP had attempted to escape the scene by climbing out of a window from the first floor apartment before being spotted by a passerby “fleeing along the gutter”, according to Sarah Durant, a spokeswoman for the Brussels region’s deputy public prosecutor.
“The man’s hands were bloody,” Durant said. “It is possible that he may have been injured while fleeing. Narcotics were found in his backpack. The man was unable to produce any identity documents. He was escorted to his place of residence, where he identified himself as SJ (1961) by means of a diplomatic passport.” It was reported he tried to claim diplomatic immunity.
In a statement, Szájer, 59, who resigned on Sunday without mentioning his brush with the law, apologised for his “irresponsible” behaviour but denied carrying drugs.
He said: “A newspaper article appeared in the Belgian press today about a house party in Brussels on Friday, which I attended. After the police asked for my identity – since I did not have ID on me – I declared that I was an MEP.
“The police continued the process and finally issued an official verbal warning and transported me home.
“I did not use drugs. I offered to the police to take an instant test, but they did not do it. Police said an ecstasy pill was found. It’s not mine, I don’t know who placed it and how. I made a statement to the police about this.”
Szájer, who is married to Tünde Handó, a prominent Hungarian lawyer and judge with whom he has a daughter, asked his family to forgive him in his statement.
He wrote: “I deeply regret violating the Covid restrictions – it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to pay the fine that occurs. With my resignation on Sunday I drew the political and personal consequences.
“I apologise to my family, to my colleagues, to my voters. I ask them to evaluate my misstep against a background of 30 years of devoted and hard work. The misstep is strictly personal. I am the one who owns responsibility for it.”
Two other people, aged about 43 and 33, claimed diplomatic immunity when discovered at the party, where many had been found wearing little or no clothes, according to local reports. A source told the DH Sports newspaper: “We interrupted a gang bang.”
Szájer has previously boasted that he personally drafted changes to the Hungarian constitution that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. “Steve Jobs will surely be happy when he gets word that Hungary’s new constitution is being written on an iPad, actually my iPad,” he wrote in a 2011 blogpost, a year after Orbán’s government came to power.
In the intervening decade, Orbán’s government has made family values a centrepiece of its political programme, frequently employing anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Friday’s illegal gathering, staged on Rue des Pierres, a few yards from a police station, broke Belgium’s rules limiting indoor gatherings to four people.
Brussels is under a 10pm to 6am curfew, and all bars and restaurants have been ordered to shut until mid-January. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors in public spaces. Individuals found to have breached the regulations face a €250 (£224) fine – less than the daily stipend given to MEPs for attending parliament.
MEPs cannot be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings because of opinions expressed or votes cast, but they do not have immunity when found committing a criminal act.
Officials from the Belgian ministry of foreign affairs were said have been called for guidance in the early hours of the morning and the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, was informed.
A source in the European parliament said: “There is nothing wrong to participate in a sex party of any kind. However, such kinds of meetings with many people are illegal under the coronavirus laws. The fact of being covered by parliamentary immunity does not exempt anyone from obeying the law.”
In her statement, the prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said the MEP was being investigated over possession of narcotics. “A police report was drawn up for non-compliance with measures relating to the Covid-19 pandemic for all those present,” she said. “A report was also drawn up for SJ for violation of the narcotics legislation.
“The procedure is ongoing. Criminal proceedings could only be brought after the waiver of the diplomatic or parliamentary immunity of the above-mentioned persons by the competent authorities.”