Australian court: Alleged Nazi can be extradited to Hungary

Australian court Allege

October 8, 2009 12:26
1 minute read.

A court ruled Thursday that an 88-year-old accused of killing a Jewish teenager during World War II is eligible for extradition to Hungary, rejecting the man's appeal but giving him two weeks to lodge another. Charles Zentai is accused by the Hungarian government of torturing and killing a Jewish teenager in 1944 for failing to wear a star that would identify him as a Jew. Zentai, who emigrated to Australia in 1950, says he is innocent and was not in Budapest when the slaying occurred. A warrant was first issued for his arrest in 2005. A court last year ruled that Zentai was eligible for extradition. He appealed in March, and the extradition ruling was upheld by a Federal Court judge. This time he appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court. He now has the option of appealing to the High Court, Australia's highest court. Zentai's bail was renewed, and he was ordered to attend a cardiologist's appointment later in the day. Zentai's son, Ernie Steiner, said after the ruling that the family would consider its options after they read the full judgment. "Obviously I am very concerned for my father, and I've had to ask him some very direct questions, and I'm convinced - through my own family history, statements he made in 1994 when my mother was still alive about the date of his departure from Budapest - he wasn't even there," Steiner said. "So this is really a travesty, this whole thing. We've never been able to present any arguments about my father's innocence in the courts in Australia." Attorney-General Robert McClelland has the final say on Zentai's extradition. McClelland has delegated the decision to Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor, who has already invited submissions on the matter. Steiner said O'Connor could be his father's best chance of avoiding extradition and said he had already given a 570-page submission to the minister. Zentai is listed by the Nazi-hunting US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center among its 10 most wanted for having "participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944."

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