Budapest, April 1 (MTI) – Béla Biszku, a former politician who held important positions in Hungary’s communist era, died on Friday, at the age of 94.
Biszku was tried and received a suspended sentence in December last year for his role in the retaliation that followed Hungary’s failed anti-Soviet uprising of 1956.
Biszku was born in 1921. In 1944 he joined the Communist Party and participated in the anti-fascist resistance movement that fought against the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany and against Hungary’s pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party. In the first half of the 1950s, he advanced up the ranks within the Communist Party.Béla Biszku and János Kádár
After the crushing of the 1956 revolution, Biszku was promoted to the central decision-making body of the newly-formed Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP), staying in its top ranks until 1980. He was a member of the party’s various leading committees beginning with the Provisional Executive Committee and later the Political Committee.
From 1957 to 1961, he served as interior minister and played a leading role in the retaliation that followed the 1956 revolution. Between 1961 and 1962 he filled the post of deputy prime minister.
In January 2011 a Budapest district prosecutor indicted Biszku for public denial of the crimes of the fascist and communist regimes. In December of that year, parliament passed a law that declared crimes against humanity not to be subject to the statute of limitations and stipulated that crimes committed during the communist dictatorship should be punished.
In February 2012, the Jobbik party filed a criminal complaint against Biszku for his role in the post-1956 retaliations.
Biszku was indicted in 2013 for his role in the Communist Party’s setting up a special police force which was then responsible for firing shots at unarmed anti-communist protesters in December 1956. Biszku’s role was qualified as a war crime.
In 2014, a lower court declared Biszku guilty of instigation and complicity to homicide and sentenced him to five and a half years in prison, but in June of 2015, a municipal appeals court annulled that ruling and ordered a new trial.
In December 2015 he was given a suspended prison sentence for complicity in war crimes. The Municipal Court of Budapest acting as a court of first instance, however, exonerated Biszku of the charges of ordering the shooting of the anti-communist protesters in December 1956 and the beating of academics in March 1957. The court said then that it was unable to establish that Biszku, as a member of the Provisional Executive Committee served as the instigator of the shootings. The court’s reasoning behind the suspended prison sentence was that Biszku was complicit in the crimes because he had failed to hold the actual perpetrators to account.
Biszku was also found guilty of publicly denying the crimes of the Communist regime in two television interviews in which he referred to the 1956 uprising as a “counter-revolution” and disputed that the Communist Party sentenced its political opponents in show trials.