July 18th, 2012

Wiesenthal Center asks Hungarian President’s help in bringing alleged WWII criminal to justice

The Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre has asked Hungarian President Janos Ader in an open letter sent to MTI late on Tuesday to help bring alleged Nazi war criminal Laszlo Csatary, aged 97, to justice “as quickly as possible.”

The centre’s director Efraim Zuroff told Ader that he had discovered Csatary in Budapest almost a year ago, and already submitted the information on his whereabouts and crimes to the Hungarian prosecutors in September 2011, hoping that they would expedite the case given Csatary’s age.

“But months have gone by, and he has not even been officially declared a suspect and had his passport taken away,” the letter said.

He added that he had submitted to the prosecutor’s office new details on the case and identity of Csatary’s victims in Budapest last week, but the spokesperson for the prosecution had not given any indication that the case would be given any priority or that it would be expedited given the special circumstances.

“The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers, and old age should not afford protection for Holocaust perpetrators,” said Zuroff, adding that Csatary was currently in a good state of health and able to stand trial, but this state of affairs may not last for long.

Zuroff asked Ader to “publically guarantee that the Hungarian authorities will do everything possible to help bring this criminal to justice and make sure that such a public pronouncement will indeed be followed up by the requisite practical and judicial steps.”

According to information acquired by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Csatary is alleged to have played a major role in the deportation of around 300 Jews from Kassa (now Kosice is Slovakia) to Kamyanets-Podilsky in Ukraine, where nearly all of them were killed in the summer of 1941. Additionally, as a senior police officer in Kassa, Csatary is said to have participated in organising the deportation of more than 15,000 Jews to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944.

The Budapest Prosecutor’s Office said it had launched last September an investigation into the case of Csatary for alleged WWII crimes based on a report by Efraim Zuroff, and this procedure was still under way.

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