Hungarian citizenship on US death row?

On the evening of July 7 2017, 35-year-old William Charles Morva was executed by lethal injection in the State of Virginia. Although Morva was a Hungarian citizen and the Hungarian Embassy asked for clemency, Virginia’s Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe did not spare his life.

Morva’s lawyers claimed that he was delusional when he killed two men during a prison escape in 2006. The Governor issued a statement that he didn’t find a substantial enough reason to intervene. “At the conclusion of that review, I have determined that Mr. Morva was given a fair trial and that the jury heard substantial evidence about his mental health as they prepared to sentence him in accordance with the law of our Commonwealth…. In short, the record before me does not contain sufficient evidence to warrant the extraordinary step of overturning the decision of a lawfully empaneled jury following a properly conducted trial.”

William Charles Morva in 1999

Morva was born in 1982 in the United States. His father, Charles Akos Morva (Morva Károly) arrived to the US from Hungary as a refugee in 1956. In 2006 the young Morva was in jail for attempted burglary and requested medical treatment of an injury. While being transported to a medical facility he stole a sheriff’s gun and fatally shot an unarmed security guard in the face before fleeing. His escape triggered a manhunt. Within a day Morva had killed another deputy and was found later in a ditch with a gun nearby.

The defense team stated that Morva suffered from a personality disorder that resulted in “odd beliefs,” but not delusions. According to the prosecutor, Morva had a “superior IQ” and made up his stories. At the end the jury did not buy the insanity plea.

William Charles Morva in the courtroom.

According to court documents, Morva claimed that his father’s experiences caused him trauma and affected his life. The elder Morva “was forced to serve in the Nazi-aligned Hungarian Army during World War II although he was Jewish.” His father also committed “very gruesome acts” during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and kept his Jewish heritage a secret. In the US, the family kept multiple firearms in the house because his father feared that Nazis would kill him and his family. Morva’s father died in 2004 and many questioned the validity of these claims.

In a surprise turn on May 11, 2012, six years after his initial arrest, Morva’s lawyers filed documents establishing that the defendant was a citizen of Hungary. As a Hungarian citizen, the death penalty would be impossible. The EU has abolished capital punishment and Hungary is an EU member. Did Morva obtain Hungarian citizenship in order to avoid the death penalty? How could he obtain Hungarian citizenship in jail after being accused of murder?

The Hungarian Embassy in Washington started to lobby in Morva’s behalf. “While I would like to stress that the Government of Hungary has no intention to interfere in any way with the legal procedures and verdicts of the United States justice system, I would hereby like to make a humanitarian appeal on behalf of William Charles Morva. On behalf of the Hungarian Government, I respectfully request you, Governor McAuliffe, to use the clemency proceedings initiated on behalf of Mr. Morva to commute his sentence to life imprisonment without parole. Should you be able to decide to spare the life of Mr. Morva, the Government of Hungary would welcome and support such a decision.” (Read Hungarian Embassy’s letter.)

The Embassy also stated that Hungary, as a member of the European Union and State Party to all relevant international agreements, strongly opposes the use of capital punishment. Strongly opposes?

Two years ago Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán threatened to reintroduce the death penalty in Hungary. “The death penalty question should be put on the agenda in Hungary,” he said. “Hungary will stop at nothing when it comes to protecting its citizens.” (Read more here.)

Several articles have appeared in the media saying that the Hungarian citizenship process is partially controlled by a “passport mafia.” However Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén has stated that “the procedure of granting Hungarian citizenship is strictly controlled by the Hungarian state administration and, if need be, police and the secret services are also involved.” (Read about Mr. Semjén’s statement here.)

The question remains. How and when did William Charles Morva obtain his Hungarian citizenship? We have asked the Hungarian Government. No answer yet.

György Lázár


  1. Passport mafia, apartment mafia (lakàs m), oil mafia .. etc. And, most importantly, now the Orbán mafia … Nice place..Orbanistàn.

  2. he got Hungarian citizenship by birth! As his father was Hungarian citizen.

  3. Jonas
    I doubt it because the Fid changes were made long after the felon was born and the law doesn’t have retroactive effect (
    (4) A törvénynek nincs visszaható hatálya. A magyar állampolgárságra azok a jogszabályok az irányadók, amelyek az állampolgárságra ható tények vagy események bekövetkezésekor hatályban voltak.

  4. a magyar állampolgárságról szóló 1993. évi LV. törvény (par 1.4.)

  5. Until “the most transparent gov” (no joke, the man said it) comes up with some facts, it looks like Orbán has taken the side of the murderer again, after the Azeri one.

  6. There is NO citizenship on death-raw, only a pshychopath for his actions.

    The act he commited in US, so all falls under US jurisdiction. Laws in other continents do not come into play.
    But do not worry, as long as he claims it was his father’s fault.
    We have about 40,000 murders a year, and about 40-50 meet their penalty.

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