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Appeals court in Hungary orders retrial for communist-era minister convicted of war crimes

  • Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era  Bela Biszku arrives in the courtroom  in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku  was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

    Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era Bela Biszku arrives in the courtroom in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era  Bela Biszku arrives in the courtroom  in Budapest,  Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku  was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

    Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era Bela Biszku arrives in the courtroom in Budapest, Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era  Bela Biszku sits in the courtroom  in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku  was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

    Former Hungarian interior minister in the communist-era Bela Biszku sits in the courtroom in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 1, 2015. The Hungarian appeals court has ordered the retrial of the communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956. Bela Biszku was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old former interior minister, while Biszku’s defense sought the dismissal of the charges. ( Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A Hungarian appeals court has ordered a retrial of a communist-era official convicted of war crimes related to reprisals against civilians after the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution.

Bela Biszku, the only high-ranking communist leader convicted since Hungary's 1990 return to democracy, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in May 2014. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, asking for life in prison for the 93-year-old, while Biszku's defense sought a dismissal of the charges.

It wasn't immediately clear why the appeals court decided to return the case to the lower court Monday.

Biszku was in the Communist Party's ruling committee after the 1956 uprising was defeated by Soviet forces. The committee created armed militias to carry out the repression and Biszku was convicted for his responsibility in nearly 50 deaths.