Having detained and put under house arrest "97-year-old Laszlo Csatary, the former police chief of the Jewish ghetto in Kosice, who oversaw both the ghetto and the deportations to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944" the Hungarian authorities have finally got round to arresting former Interior Minister Bela Biszku, who
is accused of responsibility for ordering the security forces to open fire on crowds in Budapest and Salgotarjan in November and December 1956. About 50 people were killed in those two incidents alone.There is more on the story here and on Xinhuan.
Further charges, relating to his role in allegedly interfering with the courts to ensure heavy sentences, including the death sentence for the revolutionaries, may be added. At least 226 people were executed.
It is, of course, logical to deal with Communist criminals as harshly as with Nazi ones but one does wonder why it took the Hungarian authorities quite so long to do so.
One of the mysteries of the case is exactly why it has taken so long. It is 22 years since the fall of communism, and 44 years since Hungary signed the 1968 New York Convention on bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice.That merely rephrases the problem. Why did it take so long for the New York Convention to be incorporated into law? By now, Mr Biszku is practically the only man alive who could be held responsible and he, like the arrested former Nazis is very old.
In 2011 the so-called Biszku Law was drawn up, allowing for the 1968 New York Convention to be incorporated into Hungarian law.
In February this year, the Budapest Prosecution Service began an investigation, in reaction to an individual complaint against him.
Asked by the BBC to explain the timing of Mr Biszku's arrest, the chief prosecutor mentioned the change in the law.