Hungarian prosecutors to probe Nazi war crimes suspect

Despite Simon Wiesenthal Center info on man convicted for Serbia deaths but never punished, gov't originally unable to act because ruling had been overturned.

Nazis 298.88 (photo credit: )
Nazis 298.88
(photo credit: )
Hungarian prosecutors are investigating a man suspected of war crimes committed during World War II, officials said Wednesday. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group, last year identified Sandor Kepiro, 93, as having been convicted in the 1940s but never punished for his role in the killing of more than 1,200 people by Hungarian forces in Novi Sad, Serbia, during the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia in World War II. Efraim Zuroff, director of the center's Israel office, provided authorities with documents from the 1944 verdict and asked that Kepiro's 10-year prison sentence for that crime be enforced. Last month, however, the Budapest Municipal Court said the 1944 ruling could not be enforced because a retrial shortly afterward annulled the sentence. Kepiro, then a gendarmerie captain, has denied the accusations, saying he was a scapegoat in a show trial. The Budapest Prosecutor's Office is now investigating Kepiro's case, spokesman Attila Morvai said Wednesday. The investigation for violent crimes against the civilian population was expected to take several months and it was not clear whether Kepiro would be interrogated. For now, the investigation into Kepiro's case was targeting an unknown suspect, Morvai added. "According to Hungarian law, concrete proceedings are launched against an individual only after reasonable suspicion has been established," Morvai said. Kepiro, who moved back to Hungary in 1996 after living for decades in Argentina, was identified by the Wiesenthal Center's "Operation: Last Chance," which aims to capture hundreds of alleged Nazi war crimes suspects who are still alive.