Zentai’s family pursues his innocence

August 16, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Ernie Steiner said his family was over the moon knowing that his 90-yr-old father Charles Zentai would not be extradited to Hungary to face questioning over the brutal murder of a Jewish youth in 1944…but he is continuing his search for evidence to prove his father’s innocence.

Ernie Steiner with his father Charles Zentai after the High Court decision


Steiner spoke to J-Wire from Perth.

He said: “About 8:30 yesterday morning we heard the High Court decision rejecting the appeal by Brendan O’Connor. About 90 minutes later we received a call from the Attorney-General’s office confirming the decision and advising us that bail had been lifted. It has been a seven and a half year journey but I have always believed in my father’s innocence.

At the time Peter Balazs was killed, my father’s unit of around 700 men was in a small village. I am trying to produce the evidence to show that that is where he was…and not in Budapest.”

He added: “Now my father wants to get on with the rest of his life. He is not well enough to travel and the future for him now revolves around family and friends


4 Responses to “Zentai’s family pursues his innocence”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Clive Nichols

    Your attempt at presenting Charles Zentai and the historic realities of war-time Hungary and post-war judicial treatement of war criminals in Hungary is as tendentious as it is incredibly farcical.

    It is obvious that you are fairly close to Charles Zentai and that argues well for your stark subjective qualifications.
    It is also obvious that you knowledge of history is poor and tainted by the same subjectivism.

    – one did not have to be a card carrying member of the Arrow Cross to have committed the crimes in question.
    – the so called “Soviet Trials” were not Soviet in actual fact. The trials of the war criminals, Szalasi included, were War Crime Trials. A large number of war criminals were tried and found guilty. Some were executed. Szalasi was executed in March 1946. The judicial process of bringing war criminals to justice did not stop in 1946. The number of war criminals of lesser repute, such as ordinary soldiers, low ranking soldiers, had to continue, considering the incredible number of murders committed by the said soldiers. The Balasz Peter case was only one of thousands in its cathegory.
    The trial considering Balasz Peter had its normal course. The fact that was carried out in 1948, when Soviet troops were still staioned in Hungary, does NOT make the trial a farcical one. The courts were run by Hungarian judicial officers who were well versed in dealing with knoiwn crimes.
    By all accounts Charles Zentai was NOT an alleged significant war criminal, one that needed be made a great public example of. He was deemed to have been prt of a small group of three soldiers who were in charged at the time of Balasz Peter’s murder with a Yellow Star House.
    The tria had two accused in the dock and a large number of witnesses. One can assume that no witness had any reason NON forensically related to bring a certain Charles Zentai in court on charges related to Balasz Peter’s murder. The other two accused stated with absolute certainty that Zentai was a party to the murder. As a low ranking soldie Zentai could not provide any legal umbrage to the other two already in the dock.

    Hungary today is a democratic society, member of the European Parliament. Hungarian judicial institutions are today accountable to a number of reliable international fora. “Closed Military Courts” are the ones legally entrustaed with the Zentai case simply because Zentai was a soldier at the time. NOTHING suspicious abiut this at all. Nothing dubious either about the accusations. As stated above , the accusations stand and the High Court in Perth did not express any negative opinion in respect of them. Your take is, therefore, totally unjustified, tendentious, grossly circumstantial, tainted by an obvious subjective position and by ostensive lack of historic knowledge, therefore completely irrelevant..

    The “survival” of the accused does not come into question at all, only his proof of innocence against such a vast raft of credible accusations

  2. Steve says:

    The Hungarian extradition application was for a “war crime”. The High Court defeated it because beating a Jewish boy to death for failing to wear a yellow star was not a “war crime” in Hungary in 1944.

    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.

    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, with overwhelming evidence against him in the puiblic domain.

    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.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    So far the family of Charles Zentai has charted a long account of accusations of war crimes, no less.
    This is not contestable.
    The allegations are of the most terrible nature.
    Th Australian High Court did NOT declare that the allgateions of murder must not be considered, only that, as a point of law the extradition process to Hungary cannot proceed.

    Those of us who have been so closely related to the events to which Zentai is allegedly associated are deeply angered by the fact that the extradition to Hungary did not proceed. We, the descendants of Shoah victims and survivors, we, who have known all our lives about the horrors committed by the Hungarian fascists, we, who have lived with the tears and pain of our Mothers and Fathers streaming daily at their re-living the tragedies they, our parents, went through, are not satisfied that complete justice has been done. To me ,personally, the evidence so far produced in courts in Hungary after the war in the case of the murder of Balasz Peter, who was my older Brother, my Uncle, my friend, points to a mob of Hungarian thugs, murderers, the same ones who have committed hundreds of thousands of similar murders during the war. Zentai has NOT been exhonerated, he is still a suspect – at least – in the case of the murder of Balsz Peter. This is something his family cannot deny or celebrate.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Mr Steiner,

    according to a large number of witnesses, termeszetesen, surely, your father, the alleged murderer Charles Zontai, was right there, in Budapest on November 4th, 1944, beating up to death an innocent young man, Balasz Peter, and proud of it.
    This is the legacy, the burden, if you have any conscience, that your father has saddled you and your entire family with. The allegations of murder, of committing a war crime ,no less, are adorning your family crest. If what you are trying to demonstrate could have been demonstrable, it would have happened aready in the last SIXTYFIVE YERS !!! Such keptelenseg, rubbish, never eventuated, your father has not been proven to have been anywhere else but stated by a large number of witnesses, right there where it is alleged, allegedly murdering another human being for the mere fact that he was Jewish. Next you will have the szemtelenseg, audacity, to tell us that there was or there is no such animal as a Hungarian anti Semite, and, as your father stated after the High Court decision, that, as he is “not a vengeful man “, that the alleged murderer Charles Zentai was and is a genuine angel !
    The shame on your family shall remain foerver !!!

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