Australian resists extradition over 1944 killing
21 November 2005, SYDNEY - An 84-year-old Australian fighting extradition to Hungary over an allegation he killed an 18-year-old Jewish civilian when he was a Hungarian army officer in 1944 claims he is too old and frail to fly to Budapest, his son said Monday.
21 November 2005
SYDNEY - An 84-year-old Australian fighting extradition to Hungary over an allegation he killed an 18-year-old Jewish civilian when he was a Hungarian army officer in 1944 claims he is too old and frail to fly to Budapest, his son said Monday.
Octogenarian Charles Zentai denied that claiming ill health was a ploy to avoid justice.
"He's got a few conditions, heart condition, he's got the peripheral neuropathy and he also suffering from pretty bad depression as you could imagine in the circumstances," his son Ernie Steiner told national broadcaster ABC.
In July extradition proceedings began after Jewish human rights body the Simon Wiesenthal Centre claimed Zentai took part in the fatal beating of teenager Peter Balazs and helped dump 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.
Zentai would become the first Australian ever to be extradited over alleged war crimes if he loses his court battle in February. 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," Dr. 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 has protested his innocence. Earlier in the year, when he appeared in court fit and well, Zentai said he was keen to return to Hungary to defend himself in court.
Subject: German news