Zentai: Zuroff will not give up

July 5, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Dr Efraim Zuroff, the Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Institute in Jerusalem, has found the judge’s comments in the upholding of a Perth pensioner’s appeal against his extradition to Hungary to face “questions” on the 1944 murder of a Jewish teenager “offensive”.

He told J-Wire: “The judge’s comments about Zentai’s age are irrelevant…but what is really in contention is the inference that he will not get a fair hearing in Hungary. Hungary has not been a Communist country for decades and is a civilised Western democracy. We will ask the Hungarian authorities to contest this decision.”

He also queried statements made that Zentai is wanted by the Hungarians only for questioning.

Charles Zentai - at home after his successful appeal

Zentai appealed on Friday against an extradition order approved by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor. The authorities in Hungary sought his extradition for questioning about the the murder of 18-year-old Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944. The Jewish youth was pulled off a tram for not wearing his yellow Star of David which was technically in order as he was living in a property in Budapest under Swiss control.

Meanwhile, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry president, Robert Goot, has issued the following statement:

“The Federal Court’s latest finding that Charles Zentai is not capable of being extradited to Hungary is a sad one for the family of Peter Balazs and those who wish Zentai to face his accusers.

“The violent death of the young boy Peter Balazs in Hungary in 1944 was completely unrelated to any military operations which were then under way.  The alleged conduct therefore constituted not only a war crime but also murder.  Most civilized countries, including Australia, do not place a legal time limit on bringing murder charges.”

“Hungary is a democratic country with an independent judiciary.  The Hungarian government’s request to Australia for the extradition of Zentai should be granted to allow the Hungarian investigation into the death of Peter Balazs to be completed and, if Zentai is charged, his guilt or innocence to be determined.   Justice demands no less.”

“Although the Australian Jewish community is not involved in the proceedings, it has the highest proportion of Holocaust survivors of any community outside of Israel and many people in our community are following the case with interest.

“We believe it is appropriate given the complex issues dealt with in the judgment for the Federal Government to give most serious consideration to whether grounds exist for an appeal.  The integrity and quality of Australia’s system of justice is not in question.”

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