Sandor Kepiro 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The verdict for suspected war criminal Dr. Sandor Kepiro, a Hungarian
gendarmerie officer during the Second World War, will be heard on Monday in the
Buda District Court in Budapest.
Kepiro, 97, is charged with war crimes
relating to his role in the massacre of civilian hostages, mostly of Serb,
Jewish and Roma ethnicity, in and near the Serbian city of Novi Sad in January
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Kepiro was top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most-wanted war
criminals and was discovered living in Budapest by the center’s chief
Ephraim Zuroff in 2006. He may be one of the last war
criminals from the Holocaust era to stand trial.
“This is the first case
of a Nazi war criminal who was put on trial in Hungary since the transition to
democracy,” Zuroff told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“In a country like
Hungary where local Nazi collaborators were actively complicit in carrying out
atrocities during the Holocaust, such a trial has enormous
“If we add the current situation in which the extreme
nationalist party Jobbik garnered close to 17 percent of the vote in the
national election and managed to get several members into the national
parliament, the results of this trial become even more significant.”
many as 1,250 people were killed in the Novi Sad massacre, which was carried out
by Hungarian military and gendarmerie forces.
Hungary was an ally of Nazi
Germany during World War II.
The Hungarian prosecution, which is calling
for Kepiro to be given a prison sentence, has said that Kepiro was directly
responsible for the death of 36 people, 30 of whom were loaded into a transport
vehicle on Kepiro’s orders and taken away and shot.
The Novi Sad massacre
took place from January 21 to 23, 1942, and was carried out by Hungarian forces
who formed patrols to round up Jews, Serbs and Roma. They were gathered on the
banks of the Danube River and shot. The river was frozen over so the Hungarian
forces had to fire artillery shells at the ice in order to dispose of the
Approximately 800 of those killed were Jews.
convicted in Hungary in 1944 for his participation in the atrocities but his
sentence was quashed by the Fascist government that took control in March that
year. After the war, Kepiro fled to Argentina and was tried in absentia for war
crimes by the Communist government in Hungary, found guilty and sentenced to 14
He returned to Budapest in 1996 but was not
At the opening of the trial in May, Kepiro claimed that he was
innocent and was being tried “on trumped-up charges.”
The Novi Sad
massacre was part of a larger operation carried out by Hungarian troops in
northern Serbia in which more than 4,000 Serbs, Jews and Roma were murdered.