Tuesday, 2 June 2015

BÉLA BISZKU: VERDICT OVERTHROWN

Living link with András Pető

Hardly reported a little in the Western media this week's is the overthrow of last year's five-year sentence on Béla Biszku.

Béla Biszku was Minister of Interior of the Hungarian People's Republic in the years immediately following the 1956 Uprising. From 1963 he was a patient and important political allie of András Pető.

A professional, social and political relationship

Béla Biszku injured his lower back, playing sport. He was then aged 39 and Vice-President of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic. An old school-friend suggested that he should consult András Pető at his flat in Stollár Béla u., close by Party Headquarters, after which he attended Pető's State Institute seven days a week, for an hour a day, starting at 8 a.m. He was subsequently able to take part in sports again.

They talked a lot, after the 'exercises'. This was a crisis time for Pető and his State Institute. Pető told Biszku about his problems with the Ministry of Health, which was determined to discredit him. Pető explained to Biszku that his treatment was largely a matter of educating his patients but that there was a strong opinion that what he did was mere quackery that could not be scientifically proved. Pető wanted to be independent of the Health Ministry. He found the Ministry of Culture and Education rather more sympathetic and visited Party Headquarters a lot, paying particular attention to Pál Ilku, Minister of Education. The decision to transfer the State Institute from Health to Education was made at the ministerial level and gazetted on 21 December 1963, the then Prime Minister, Gyula Kállai pedantically insisting that the word 'conductive' be dropped from its title, as insufficiently Hungarian.

Pető and Biszku became friends and, along with Mária Hári and Ilona Szekély, visited Biszku's home and became fond of the family. Years later Béla Biszku recalled what András Pető would say to him if he complained –
What do you expect, do you only expect the good things in life? You are a happy man. You have a family. You have to be prepared not just for the good things in life, but for the tough times as well. One has to know that there is struggle and suffering in the world as well.

The above summary account of Béla Biszku's contact with András Pető has been drawn from an interview with medical historian Judit Forrai, published in 1999:


The present situation

I do not understand the Hungrian law and its process. In February 2010, the Hungarian Parliament made it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison publicly to deny, call into question or minimize the Holocaust. In June that year, the, new law was amended to refer instead to crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi and Communist regimes. In August 2010 Béla Biszku stated on Hungarian television that he had nothing to apologise for over in his political and administrative actions following 1986. In February 2011 he was arested

In October 2010 a new charge was added: complicity.

In May 2014 Béla Biszku (by then aged 93) was sentenced to five years and six months in prison. The Prosecutor wanted life.

In June 2015 –
The Budapest Appeals Court, however, declared the ruling of the lower court void and called for a retrial with a new set of judges.

The appeals court said it agreed with the defense lawyer's position, 'that the first-instance ruling is not suitable for revision' because of the severity of its flaws.

It found errors in the lower court's logic in reaching its conclusions, criticized the opinions of a historian relied on by prosecutors and said more historians and experts were needed to clear up key events where Biszku's role was uncertain...

'There are essential and substantive differences between establishing historical responsibility and criminal responsibility,' the court said in a statement. It said a new trial would provide an opportunity to obtain new evidence and correct the shortcomings it had identified.

References

Biszku, B. (1999) Interview, in J. Forrai (ed.), Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Arányhíd and Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, pp. 125-130

Gorondi, P. (2015) Appeals court in Hungary orders retrial for communist-era minister convicted of war crimes, Associated Press story, reference copy in Daily Reporter (Indiana), 1 June

Sutton, A. (2o12) AP's patient and supported arrested: Béla Biszku, a link with the past, Conductive World, 11 September

2 comments:

  1. Béla Biszku was Minister of Interior of the Hungarian People's Republic in the years immediately following the 1986 ......1956
    Gabor

    ReplyDelete