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Hungary charges suspected ex-Nazi with war crimes

Hungarian authorities on Wednesday took into custody a 97-year-old Hungarian man suspected of abusing and helping deport thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The man alleged to be Laszlo Csatary was arrested in Budapest after the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) [advocacy website], a Jewish human rights organization committed to finding and prosecuting Holocaust war criminals, submitted new evidence [JURIST report] to the Budapest prosecutor's office detailing the war crimes allegedly committed by Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, a former senior Hungarian police officer in the Slovakian city of Kosice. The evidence submitted to Prosecutor Dr. Gabor Hetenyi alleged that Csatary was one of the main actors responsible for deporting 300 Jews from Kosice to Kamenetz-Podolsk in Ukraine, where they were killed in 1941. The SWC also accused Csatary of being responsible for transferring about 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz [JURIST news archive]. With the new evidence the center claims that the man arrested Wednesday is the same person who has topped of the center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals [BBC backgrounder]. Csatary was convicted in absentia of war crimes and sentenced to death in Hungary in 1948 upon which he fled to Nova Scotia and became a Canadian citizen in 1955. His citizenship was revoked in 1997, but Canadian authorities could not proceed with the deportation hearing since he had already left the country. Prosecutors charged Csatary [AP report] with the "unlawful torture of human beings," a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The SWC had already called on [JURIST report] the Hungarian government to prosecute the Nazi war criminal when it issued its annual report [text, PDF; press release] in April. Nazi prosecution continues regardless of the ages of the criminals. In January, the Ingolstadt Prosecutor's Office [official website, in German] filed a motion [JURIST report] to jail Klaas Faber, a Dutch native who fled to Germany after being convicted in the Netherlands in 1947 of Nazi war crimes. Faber, 90, was accused of having participated in 22 murders and aiding the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands. Germany reopened investigations into former Nazi death camp guards in October, which stemmed from the conviction of John Demjanjuk [JURIST reports], a former guard at a camp in Poland who was deported to Germany to stand trial for his alleged Nazi crimes. Last September, alleged Nazi Sandor Kepiro died while he awaited an appeal [JURIST report] on his acquittal on war crimes charges. Another convicted Nazi commander, Josef Scheungraber, is likely not able to serve [JURIST report] his life sentence due to his mental health issues.

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