BUDAPEST, Hungary – Arpad Goncz, who survived a communist-era life sentence to become Hungary's first democratically chosen president, has died. He was 93.
Parliament deputy speaker Istvan Hiller announced to lawmakers that Goncz died Tuesday, adding, "He was a legend already during his lifetime." Lawmakers stood for a minute of silence in honor of his memory.
Goncz was charged with treason and sentenced to life in prison by Hungary's communist authorities for taking part in the abortive anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. He was released in 1963 under a general amnesty aimed at easing tensions with the West.
Though his post was largely ceremonial, Goncz was credited by many with deftly using his limited powers to enforce Hungary's fledgling democratic constitution, often putting him at odds with the post-communist government.