Australia’s High Court ruled on Wednesday that suspected war criminal Charles Zentai cannot be extradited to Hungary.
Zentai, who was an officer in the army of German-allied Hungary during WWII, is suspected of beating a teenager to death in Budapest in November 1944 for failing to wear the yellow star that identified him as a Jew.
The High Court upheld an earlier Federal Court decision that halted Zentai’s extradition to face war crimes charges, arguing that Hungarian laws in November 1944 did not recognise the offence of “war crime”.
Zentai, a resident of Perth free on bail, emigrated to Australia in the 1950s and later became a citizen. He denies the allegation, saying that he did not stay in Hungary when the teenager was killed.
The Hungarian authorities initiated his extradition in 2005. Australian police arrested the suspect and launched the procedure. The government consented to his extradition in 2009 but the Federal Court annulled its decision, saying that war crimes did not constituted a crime at the time of the murder. The government then appealed to the High Court.
Aged 90, Zentai is on “the ten most wanted Nazi war criminals” list of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.