BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian prosecutors on Monday detained a former top Communist party official for his role in the bloody suppression of an anti-Soviet uprising in 1956.
It was the first time that any of the Soviet-backed Hungarian leaders of the time had been pursued in law for the crackdown, which began with a Soviet invasion.
Bela Biszku, 90, was detained on suspicion of war crimes for having directly supervised a Military Council that ordered the shootings of civilians during protests in Budapest and in the eastern Hungarian town of Salgotarjan in December 1956.
Large numbers of civilians were killed in the backlash against the uprising, whose figurehead Imre Nagy was executed for treason for establishing a government in defiance of Moscow's rule over eastern Europe.
In Salgotarjan, 46 people were shot dead by Hungarian and Soviet armed forces, the prosecutors said.
"Today ... prosecutors have detained and heard as a suspect Bela Biszku, one of the key designers and one of those responsible for the reprisals that followed the 1956 revolution and uprising," Tibor Ibolya, acting Budapest chief prosecutor, told a news conference.
He said Biszku had denied the accusations.
Biszku came to public attention in 2010 when a documentary film was aired on his role in the suppression of the uprising.
Biszku was named interior minister under Janos Kadar in the Communist government set up after the uprising.
Prosecutors said they had applied to have him put under house arrest.
Reporting by Krisztina Than/Sandor Peto; Editing by Kevin Liffey