Conference to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the revolution at The Curia of Hungary

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  • 2016. October 15.
(Photo: NEB)

“The courage of the judges that stood up against the dictatorship is exemplary” – said one of the speakers at the conference Emlékezés és emlékeztetés [‘Remembering and Reminding II’] at The Curia of Hungary on Wednesday.

At the conference Péter Polt, General Prosecutor said about the research that started two years ago with the collaboration of the General Prosecutor's Office, the Committee of National Remembrance, the National Archives, Veritas Research Institute, Research Institute and Archives for the Study of the Regime Change: it is a milestone for justice that the period of law serving injustice can be faced with. We must remind and remember, where law and sense of justice were when criminal justice was deliberately put aside, judicial independence was ignored, when the establishment exchanged glances with the judicial system and the only aim was a bloody retribution – said Péter Polt, General Prosecutor.

(Photo: NEB)

The General Prosecutor recalled how Ferenc Nezvál, Minister for Justice gathered the judges and prosecutors after the revolution and asked them who was willing to pass rulings under martial law, and those who refused to do so were dismissed the next day. He stressed that the cassation procedures initiated after the political transition compose an integral part of social reconciliation as by them, it is legally pronounced that the retaliatory trials after 1956 were in contradiction with the idea of rule of law.

 Péter Polt (Photo: NEB)

The courage of the judges that stood up against the dictatorship is still exemplary today, said Péter Darák, President of the Curia. In the building of the Curia there is a marble plaque to commemorate the names of those 23 Supreme Court judges who were removed after the 1956 revolution and thus, they did not participate in the judicature under martial law. Some refused to do so in the name of classic judicial values; others had passed severe, malfeasant sentences in the first half of the 1950s, but 1956 decided it for them not to participate in that any more. There were even some among the young cadres form the countryside who were able to resist the orders of the party and the judicial leaders – he said to MTI. The ruthless pressure of the establishment can be sensed from the documents, how defenceless all supreme judges were in terms of their livelihood when they had to make a decision for a lifetime. Those who stayed had to take part in malfeasant ruling processes under martial law even if they were judges in civil law jurisdictions. He reminded that the regime forced everyone to be a cog in the machine.

Péter Darák (Photo: NEB)

The judges, who did participate in jurisdiction under martial law, were predominantly rewarded with a successful career with no difficulties. On the other hand, those who remained loyal to the fundamental values of their profession as opposed to the expectations of the regime, drifted to the edge of society. They were lucky to be able to return to their profession as company legal advisers ten-fifteen years later – he added. At the top of the system of judicial values is such exemplary behaviour, which does not compromise with the regime and remains loyal to the basic norms of the profession even when threatened in its existence. The events after 1956 also indicate what kind of dangers it involves when a judicial organisation is led according to outside expectations – said the President of the Curia.

Réka Kiss (Photo: NEB)

Réka Földváryné Kiss, Chairperson of the Committee of National Remembrance said to MTI that the aim of the series of research programmes that started two years ago is to commemorate appropriately the victims of the 1956 revolution and the retribution that followed the war of independence, to present the heritage of the dictatorship and to face the past without pretence. The aim of one of the research programmes, 'The Faces of 1956' is to introduce the better and lesser known participants of the revolution and war of independence as well as to demonstrate how different the backgrounds and political beliefs of people were who met at the time of the revolution and stood together, and then after the revolution how their lives parted again. Within the project 'The faces of retribution' the sometimes very high-flying careers of almost a hundred prosecutors and judges are examined who contributed to passing the 225 death sentences after the revolution. Their professional career was uploaded to the website of NEB in relation to 4th November. The "credits" gained for the retribution keep reoccurring in the personal files, serving ground for prizes, financial bonuses. However, after the 1960s they seem to be disappearing from the CVs and office assessments – she added. The third part of the research is compiling a case registry relating to the retributions after the 1956 revolution. In the National Archives of Hungary judicial cases in the countryside are being processed systematically, supervised by general director Zsuzsanna Mikó.

(Photo: NEB)

After the revolution about 26,000 people were prosecuted with charges of politically induced anti-state crimes, but there may be still a lot of cases, especially in the countryside, when participation in the revolution was retributed disguised as common criminal offenses – she said. The aim of the retribution after 1956 was to criminalise society in general; moreover, it involved whole families, as sentences often involved forfeiture of assets. The system of jurisdiction relied on state security and intelligence in this disciplinary, retributive machinery in delivering the numbers ordained by the party. The research of NEB is directed towards thoroughly exploring the whole system of retribution – said the Chair. To the question, whether any of the judges and prosecutors after 1956 are still alive, the chairperson of NEB said: that is not within the scope of the research, but as far as she knows, some probably are.


Images

 Péter Polt (Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)
Réka Kiss (Photo: NEB)
Tibor Zinner (Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)
Sándor M. Kiss (Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)
Péter Darák (Photo: NEB)
(Photo: NEB)