Stroke means no court for Zentai next week.

May 18, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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An 89-year-old accused Nazi war criminal living in Perth, has suffered a stroke preventing him from appearing in court to hear the latest appeal in his long-running extradition case.

Charles Zentai

Charles (Karoly) Zentai was due in the Federal Court in Perth Monday to hear an appeal by the federal government, which is arguing that a court decision last year that spared Zentai from extradition to his native Hungary was incorrect. the court on Tuesday agreed to reserve an opinion.

Hungary has requested Zentai be extradited for the alleged murder in 1944 of Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Jew who was allegedly killed because he was not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David.

Since the case first surfaced in 2005, Zentai has strenuously denied the allegations, saying he was not in Budapest on the day of the incident.

Zentai’s son, Ernie Steiner, said the stress of the legal action caused the stroke May 13 and that his father would not survive extradition.

“It would kill him,” Steiner told reporters on Monday. “The stress of even something like today is enormous, the concern, the worry.

“It’s inhumane, when all of this could be handled in Australia. They could send people over here to question him,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor approved Zentai’s extradition in 2009, but the ruling was overturned in last July by Justice Neil McKerracher, who ruled that O’Connor’s decision was outside his jurisdiction.

From Jerusalem, Dr Efraim Zuroff, the Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel office, told J-Wire: “First of all, it was a “mini-stroke” not something major.

According to the press reports, he only stayed in the hospital overnight. This was not something that would make him unable to stand trial.

It is my fervent hope that Mr. Zentai will be healthy enough to stand trial in Hungary and that Australia will finally succeed in taking legal action against a Holocaust perpetrator who found refuge there.”

Dr Zuroff and the Institute for whom he works, have dedicated the post-war years to track down and to bring to justice those who perpetrated war crimes against the Jews. Australia’s record sheet remains blank.




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