A senior member of the European Parliament from Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party has resigned after he admitted to breaching Belgium’s coronavirus lockdown to attend a private gathering described by national media as a “sex party.”
József Szàjer said in a statement that he was “present” at the “private party,” where police found about 20 people, including diplomats.
According to Sarah Durant, the spokeswoman for the Brussels’ public prosecutor’s office, police were called to an apartment above a bar in the historic city center at 9:30 p.m. last Friday after neighbors “complained of nighttime noise and potential violations of measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Officers found about 20 people at the apartment, two of whom, aged 43 and 33, claimed diplomatic immunity, Durrant said.
During police checks, “a passer-by reported to police that he had seen a man flee down the drainpipe,” Durrant explained.
“The man’s hands were bloody. 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 on the basis of a diplomatic passport as S.J. (1961).”
The prosecutor’s office said the 59-year-old Hungarian MEP was being investigated over possession of narcotics. “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.”
Szàjer has denied taking drugs, and said he “deeply” regretted breaking Covid-19 restrictions. “I offered the police to make an instant test, but they did not do it. According to the police they found an ecstasy pill, but it was not mine, I have no knowledge who and how it (was) placed,” he said.
The gathering, a few meters (yards) from the Brussels Central Police station, broke Belgium’s lockdown restrictions, which include an evening curfew and a cap on indoor gatherings to four people.
Official reports were drawn up for those who broke Covid-19 measures. The standard fine for breaking coronavirus restrictions is 250 euros (about $300).
“I deeply regret for violating the COVID restrictions, it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to stand for the fine that occurs,” said Szàjer.
The politician apologized to his family, colleagues and voters and asked them “to evaluate my misstep on the background of thirty years of devotion and hard work.”
“The misstep is strictly personal,” he added. “I am the only one who owes responsibility for it. I ask everyone not to extend it to my homeland, or to my political community.”
Szájer is a founding member of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and also one of the co-authors of the country’s controversial constitution in 2010 that defined marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.
Recently, Fidesz has expressed anti-gay views and has voiced strong opposition to worldwide rights for women, girls and LGBTQ people.
Szájer was the head of the Fidesz delegation in the European Parliament and a sat on the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.