Hungarian court puts right 1956 sentences

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On Tuesday, October 22nd, the Hungarian Curia (the country’s equivalent of a supreme court) will annul two more sentences of wrongfully convicted revolutionaries of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, conservative daily Magyar Nemzet writes.

The revolution began on October 23rd, 1956 and is now commemorated as one of Hungary’s national holidays. The revolutionaries demanded reforms, which they wrote on a list of 16 points. Among the 16 demands, they called for the end of the one-party state and the holding of free and democratic parliamentary elections, the country joining the United Nations and leaving the recently established Warsaw Pact. On November 1st, Soviet forces entered Hungary from the North and on November 4th the five Soviet divisions stationed in Hungary plus another freshly arrived 17 divisions moved to quash the revolution.

The poorly equipped revolutionary army and civilian street fighters were no match for the Soviet troops and the revolution was crushed by November 10th. The Hungarian casualties amounted to 2,500 dead and some 20,000 wounded. In the aftermath, 22,000 Hungarians were sentenced to prison – often by ad-hoc court martials – 13,000 interned in labor camps, 229 executed – including prime minister Imre Nagy – and some 200,000 fled the country.

In the year 2000, the Hungarian parliament passed a law that declared void any sentences brought by martial courts, people’s trials or speed trials. That law – better known as Lex Ilona Tóth – was named after a young, medical student whose only crime was that of voluntarily helping the wounded during the Budapest fighting.

The Lex Ilona Tóth was complemented in 2016 and now all descendants of those wrongfully convicted can ask the Curia to annul those sentences – there is no new trial involved as the procedure is automatic once the request has been made and the prosecutors’ office established the facts. So far 142 sentences have been overturned and the wrongfully convicted rehabilitated (most of them post mortem, given the amount of time that has passed and the fact that some have been executed).

Title image: Hungarians cheer tanks of the revolutionary army in Budapest (source:

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