Home News Australia approves extradition of ‘war criminal’ to Hungary

Australia approves extradition of ‘war criminal’ to Hungary

Published on 13/11/2009

Sydney -- Australia has approved the extradition to Hungary of an 88-year-old man accused of Nazi war crimes, the home minister said on Thursday.

Home Minister Brendan O’Connor said Charles Zentai had two months to appeal against the decision.

He said the approval did not indicate the guilt of Zentai, who is accused of beating a Jewish teenager to death during World War II.

"It was about deciding whether or not Mr Zentai should be surrendered to Hungary in accordance with Australia’s extradition legislation and its international obligations," he said.

"These obligations reflect Australia’s crime cooperation responsibilities to other nations around the globe."

Zentai is accused of murdering 18-year-old Peter Balazs in 1944 in Budapest while serving as a soldier in the army of his native Hungary, then allied with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Zentai, who emigrated to Australia after the war, denies the accusation. He has mounted a series of challenges since being ruled eligible for extradition last year.

"They just have no idea, no idea how (the) situation in Hungary (is) not the best," he said last month. "You may hear people saying here that it’s a democratic country, but it’s far from it."

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Jewish human rights organisation known for tracking down alleged Nazi war criminals, brought the allegations.

Zentai was living quietly in the western Australian city of Perth before the Hungarian government began extradition proceedings in March 2005.