Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: Michael Jackson

Sunday, 10 April 2005

image for Michael Jackson Offered Sanctuary in Hungary
Kobusz and Tanya Vacesz outside the cottage they are willing to share with Michael Jackson

Hungary has offered a new home to beleaguered pop star Michael Jackson.

Under a centuries' old law, the tiny village of Redezeny, near the Slovenian border, is legally permitted to offer a safe haven to one non-Magyar per year whom residents feel is being unfairly persecuted by his or her homeland.

Although the law has rarely been taken advantage of, village elders at their annual council meeting unanimously agreed to offer their hospitality to the 46-year-old entertainer who has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation and conspiracy.

Redezeny's controversial decision came after more raids on the eccentric star's Neverland Ranch and his legal team's appeal to Santa Barbara Superior Court to continue his January 31 trial date for six weeks.

Council leader Stefan Bogadoric said: "We are aware of the gravity of the charges against Michael Jackson but he is a man much loved in our community and every year since 1973 the young children in our school learn all the words of the Rocking Robin.

"To us, this Rocking Robin is a very good song and has come to be a big part of our Christmas. We would welcome Michael to be part of our celebrations and part of our community and to come and sing his Rocking Robin for our children."

Redezeny, 60 minutes by train from Budapest, has a population of little more than a thousand, a handful of shops, a bar and a junior school. The modest cottage Jackson would share with Kobusz and Tanya Vacesz is around 1km from the heart of the village.

Jackson attorney Robert Sanger said his client was "moved to tears" by the offer but was confident he would be vindicated when his case came to court.

"If it is at all possible," he added, "when Mr Jackson has his passport returned to him I'm sure he would dearly like to visit and thank the people of Redezeny personally."

Redezeny's first offer of sanctuary was to the mercenary commander Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland and Mecklenburg, during the Thirty Years' War in the early 17th century.

More recent candidates have included US President Richard Nixon during his impeachment, Prince Charles of the UK and American comic Steve Martin when he stopped being funny.

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