Zentai not off the hook

December 9, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has been granted leave to appeal the decision made in Federal Court last year overturning a decision to extradite 90-yr-old Charles Zentai…wanted in Hungary to face questioning on the death of an 18-yr-old Jewish youth in Budapest in 1944.

Peter Balazs was spotted on a tram not wearing the mandatory Star of David. The teenager was living under Swiss jurisdiction in the Hungarian capital. He was dragged to army barracks and beaten to death in front of prisoners. His body was then dumped in the Danube.

Peter Balazs

Charles Zentai, a Perth resident since 1950, is wanted by Hungarian authorities for questioning.

A spokeswoman for the Minister said: “The decision was handed down by the High Court in Sydney this morning.

The Gillard Government welcomes the High Court’s decision to grant the Commonwealth special leave to appeal the Full Federal Court’s decision in this matter.

The Commonwealth is appealing against the Full Court’s interpretation of an ‘extraditable offence’ for which Mr Zentai could be surrendered under the extradition treaty between Australia and Hungary.

The effect of the Full Court’s interpretation is that, as the offence of ‘war crime’ was not on Hungary’s statute books at the time of Mr Zentai’s alleged criminal conduct, it is not an offence for which he may be surrendered under the treaty.

The matter raises a significant issue for the administration of Australia’s extradition regime.

As the matter is currently before the High Court, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Charles Zentai was arrested and imprisoned in Perth whilst awaiting the results of the extradition process. He remains on bail.

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