Charles Zentai still stands accused

August 16, 2012 by Steve Lieblich
Read on for article

The Australian High Court’s decision not to extradite Charles Zentai to Hungary allows the accused to avoid facing trial for alleged brutal murder. With all due respect to the learned judges, the decision is a damning indictment of the Australian legal system…writes Steve Lieblich.

Steve Lieblich

The Hungarian application to extradite Zentai sought to bring him to face charges for a “war crime”. The High Court upheld an appeal against the extradition on the basis that the alleged behaviour (beating a Jewish boy, Péter Balázs, to death for failing to wear a yellow star) was not a “war crime” in Hungary in 1944, when it allegedly occurred.

By the same logic, if Adolf Eichmann, or any of the high-ranking Nazis convicted in Nuremberg after World War 2, or Adolf Hitler himself, were living in Australia today, an application to extradite them to face war-crimes charges would be defeated. Under German law at the time, genocide was legal.

But Zentai has not been exonerated by this perverse decision. Until the indictment against him is tried in a court of law, he remains accused.

Overwhelming evidence against him was presented at 1946-7 trials for the murder of Péter Balázs in which Zentai’s commanding officer, Bela Máder, and his fellow officer Lajos Nagy were found guilty.

According to the evidence presented at Nagy’s trial:

  • Between the hours of 3 pm and 8 pm, on 8 November 1944, Zentai and Nagy beat Balázs so badly that by 8 pm he lay dying.
  • Zentai, Máder and Nagy saw that the boy was dying, and then went to an adjoining room and began drinking.
  • A number of other prisoners detained that night at the same police station, testified that Captain Máder decided to show them the dying man, warning each of them ‘That’s the way you will go too’; and that, according to his photograph, the victim was Péter Balázs.

This evidence is in the public domain. The failure of the extradition application in no way discredits that evidence, which has not been tested. Until Zentai faces proper legal proceedings, he continues to stand accused.

On a personal note:

My father died when I was almost 50 years old. For the entire 50 years he often awoke at night crying out in anguish in the midst of a nightmare… remnants of the memories he bore to the grave.

Before Zentai or his children begin publicly crowing about the inconvenience of facing an extradition application, I hope they reflect on the fate of Péter Balázs and the anguish of his surviving family.



7 Responses to “Charles Zentai still stands accused”
  1. Clive says:

    Dear Steve,
    I have been moved by your chilling accounts of what happened in Budapest in 1944 and was appalled to hear how your dad. We all wish that something could be done about it and for that reason I greatly admired the work of Simon Wiesenthal. He was such a compassionate justice legend that he was revered even by those he brought to justice!
    The fact is we live in different times but if the Holocaust taught us anything , we should renew our efforts to always look out for each other- NOW! For the same reason we should always ensure our government treats all our fellow citizens in ways that are both fair and acceptable to the Australian Community.
    With respect , I would like to ask these 9 questions in relation to your last post:
    1 Is it possible that extradition could proceed against an innocent citizen?
    2 Could someone be tried where the laws did not provide commensurate protections? ie
    a. A Closed Military Court ?
    b. A Court without Jury System?
    c. A Court without an Appeal System?
    d. A Court without genuine Press reporting freedom?
    e. A Court without normative separation of powers?
    3 A Court without which ignored normative statutes of limitation?
    4 A Court that could use accusations from a former totalitarian regime without separation of powers and which could use “findings” for propaganda purposes.- eg a Stalinist Era Court!
    5 A Court that could use witness statements where there was some evidence of duress and intimidation duress or intimidation and which made judgements about a third person without his attendance

    6 Could the extradited subject be tried in the absence of living witnesses or accusers?
    7 Could a prosecution occur where all potential Alibi providers were all absent (deceased)?
    8 Could prosecution occur which ignored previous prejudicial/defamatory and untrue about name change etc
    9 Would the conditions of the trial be fair?*
    * Note
    I am referring here to staments made last week by Mark Ierace , former prosecuter UN War Crimes Tribunal has made it clear that that “prosecution of a suspected war criminal only applies with strict provision about fairness.”(Article 14 ICPPR) If the trial cannot be fair , it cannot take place!

    If any answer is “No” to any of these questions then I have every confidence that you would have the courage to make a small apology about the fairness of “process” to Mr Zentai.
    This would be greatly respected by all Australians if you felt it was right thing to do!
    It would also make it less likely for wrongful extradition of Australian citizens to occur.
    Kind Regards

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      jumping from one side of the site to another and listing the same absurdities wont help your case/cause.
      The case is one that alleges that the “exemplary Australian citizen” is also an alleged war criminal. This allegations have not been anulled by the Asutralian High Court. Yet you act as if Charles Zentai has been exhonerated of the very serious charges of war crimes. The fallacious “arguments” you cite in relation to anything but specifics of the accused Charles Zentai prove only that your attempts at at legal pleadings are simply pathetic.

      The cause is one that ignores historic realities and, in a pityful way, attempts at brushing propper legal proceedings with the ideological smear of “Stalinism”.
      It must be repeated: Stalin was not responsible for the known millions of murders committed by all nazi type animals, whether Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, Croats, Latvian etc.
      What are you trying to achieve has ended in a vain and shameful exercise of legal irrelevance and historic revisionism of the worst kind; all in all an exposure of a mind that cannot grasp reality simply because the ethical fundamentals are NOT there.

      And, while at it, spare us your “understanding” of our tribulations.

  2. Steve says:

    If Zentai wishes to clear his name of these allegations, he should go to Hungary and have them tested in court.
    The extradition matter has no bearing whatsoever on the murder case, which remains untried.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Clem, whoever you might be.

    you are either incredibly stupid or incredibly anti Semitic which makes you also incredibly stupid !

    The issue is with the Australian High Court and the essence of their decision as Steve Lieblich so clearly stated.
    My parents also survived Shoah and my Mother’s daily tears for the forty years I have known her are vivid in my memory. Thousands of Hungarians nave committed terrible attrocities against Jews, starting with the forced labour battalions and ending with the mass deportations and the murders committed particularly in Budapest after the Nyilas government came into power, which coincides with the murder of Balasz November 1944.
    Zentai had been named as a participant only a short time after the murder had been committed. The attempts by Zentai’s defenders to prove his innocence have failed so far, so far for SIXTY FIVE YEARS !!

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    What with all the brilliant Jewish legal minds throughout Australia and this is the result?
    Maybe they’re becomig “too Australianized” in the land of the fair go.
    Archbishop, now Cardinal Pell made sure he had the top man representing him a few years ago, instead of one of his own and that say’s something.
    Michael Rosenes I believe,who was rescued from being caught up in an unholy web being elevated to the County Court.
    And yes, they can still stand accused, before God who knows all.

  5. Randy says:

    His son told the ABC that whole business was having an adverse effect on his health. Err..the guy is 92 and a lot healthier than my grandparents in Auschwitz

  6. Clem says:

    I am quite amazed at the outpouring of anger shown by some folk at the decision not to extradite Charles Zentai. Just because an accusation is made, it doesn’t mean that the accused is guilty.
    Mr Zentai has repeatedly stated that if the Hungarian authorities wish to send representatives to Australia to question him over his alleged involvement in the murder of this young man, he is quite happy to respond to their questions and provide his evidence that he was not present when the murder occurred.
    I recognise that the Jewish people have been persecuted throughout time and that the events of the holocaust have caused incredible pain and suffering but we must not lose sight of the fact that all people deserve to be treated justly.
    If the Hungarian authorities are convinced of their evidence against Charles Zentai they should send Government representatives to Australia to fully investigate all the evidence available and give Charles Zentai the opportunity to answer the accusations.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.