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Béla Biszku indicted for war crimes

October 19th, 2013

A pro-government editorial says Biszku should have been charged earlier – now, even if the 92 year old is sentenced, the desire of Hungarians for justice cannot be satisfied.

Béla Biszku was a member of the party leadership put in place by the Soviet leadership in 1956 when it decided to invade Hungary to crush the revolution. In some districts and towns resistance continued beyond November 1956 and protesting crowds were shot at. Biszku is charged with ordering troops to open fire in two such instances, one in Budapest and another in Salgótarján. He denies knowledge either of the shootings or the fact that protesters were killed by the special detachments sent against them. (See BudaPost December 13, 2012)
In Magyar Nemzet, Miklós Ugró writes that this elderly man may evoke compassion now, and even if his trial provides some belated relief to widows and orphans, “the case leaves a bitter aftertaste instead of a taste of justice”. Biszku is the very first former communist leader to be charged with any crime. Now apart from him, they are all dead, he continues, although “Hungarian people really wanted to see the war criminals on trial” not in the form of a “witch-hunt” – an interpretation he attributes to left and liberal commentators – but as a form of deterrence. Ugró speculates that a sentence would have prevented the 2006 police crackdown on protesters (see e.g. BudaPost, February 14), but the opportunity was missed, he concludes, and “the world represented by Biszku” lives on undisturbed.

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