Australian arrested over murder of Jewish civilian

8th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 July 2005, SYDNEY - An 83-year-old Australian was arrested Friday pending extradition over allegations that he killed an 18-year-old Jewish civilian when he was a Hungarian army officer in 1944.

8 July 2005

SYDNEY - An 83-year-old Australian was arrested Friday pending extradition over allegations that he killed an 18-year-old Jewish civilian when he was a Hungarian army officer in 1944.

The claim was made by the Jewish human rights body, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. It claimed Charles Zentai killed teenager Peter Balazs and dumped his body in the Danube River for failing to wear a Star of David insignia.

Identifying oneself as a Jew was mandatory in countries controlled by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison said he had signed a notice under the extradition act initiating the formal extradition proceedings.

"Australia is committed to meeting its treaty obligations to extradite to Hungary persons accused of serious crimes in Hungary," Ellison said.

If Zentai is sent to Hungary, he will become the first Australian ever to be extradited over alleged war crimes.

In an interview on local television in January, Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff said Zentai and two accomplices tortured and killed Balazs.

"In terms of the evidence, this case is one of the most solid cases that's ever been presented to the Australian authorities," Zuroff told the Nine Network.

He said Zentai's two alleged accomplices were convicted and jailed but Zentai himself had fled to Germany and then Australia before he could be charged.

Zentai denied the charges. "All I have to say and want to say at this stage is that this is all wrong and I'm prepared to go back to Hungary to defend myself," he told the network.

DPA

Subject: German news

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