Zentai home for Christmas

December 16, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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A Federal Court judge has ordered the immediate release of Charles Zentai who has been imprisoned awaiting extradition to Hungary for questioning regarding the 1944 murder of an 18-yr-old Jewish youth.

Zentai had applied for bail which Judge Neil McKerracher immediately granted allowing the 88-yr-old to spend Christmas with his family. He has been in jail since October.

Peter Balazs, an 18-yr-old Jewish youth, was pulled of a Budapest tram in 1944 after being spotted without the Yellow Star of David on his clothing. He was dragged to a nearby army barracks and beaten to death in front of other prisoners by three men two of whom were convicted. The Hungarian Government has successfully applied for Zentai’s extradition to face questioning about the murder. Zentai will make an appeal to the Federal Court to have Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connors decision reviewed.

The Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Institute in Jerusalem, Dr Efraim Zuroff, has pursued this case vigorously since the story of Zentai came to light. He told J-Wire: “This is a very sensitive question and it is important that the authorities keep in mind that the crime Mr. Zentai is accused of is murder.”

Shortly before his father’s bail application was heard, Zentai’s son, Ernie Steiner, told J-Wire: “We are all praying that there will be no technical hitches in the Federal Court and that my Dad will be released from prison. Christmas is a special time for our family. Traditionally our family all gathers at my father’s house on Christmas eve for prayers, carols, to give gifts to each other and to share a meal.

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