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Hungarian Minister, Police Leaders Resign Amid Corruption Charges

Hungary's prime minister says he has accepted the resignation of the justice minister and the dismissals of the national and Budapest police chiefs after several scandals. Stefan Bos reports for VOA from Budapest the prime minister says the move is intended to restore public confidence in Hungary's police and justice systems.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany visited parliament to announce swift changes within the leadership of Hungary's police force amid corruption and rape allegations.

He said he had accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Jozsef Petretei and the dismissals of National Police Chief Laszlo Bene and Budapest Police Chief Peter Gergenyi, who will leave their posts by the end of the month.

"I want to announce that I accepted the resignations of the police chiefs," he said. And he adds that he also received the resignation letter from the justice minister. Mr. Gyurcsany says the resignations "will be in effect from May 31" and that he will forward the letters of resignation to the president of Hungary.

Mr. Gyurcsany said the move was crucial to, in his words, ensure that "peace and confidence" once again "define Hungary."

The announcement follows intense opposition pressure on the government after revelations that five officers have been suspended for allegedly raping a woman on May 4, while on duty in downtown Budapest.

International human-rights group Amnesty International said this month that in many cases victims of rape are not taken seriously in Hungary.

There were corruption scandals as well. Last week, 13 police officers and three others were detained after Hungarian prosecutors charged they told motorists stranded on highways to call certain towing services, which paid the police for the referrals.

And, earlier this month, a Budapest police officer received a suspended jail sentence for stealing more than $2,000 while supervising a cash count after an attempted bank robbery, in which the robber was shot and killed.

Hungarian police have also come under pressure amid allegations that they used disproportionate force during recent anti-government demonstrations. The protests began last year following revelations that Prime Minister Gyurcsany admitted to lying about the economy to win re-election.