Australia to Deport Suspect in WWII Murder

Australia will deport a man suspected of murdering a Jewish youth in Budapest during World War II.

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Maayana Miskin, | updated: 09:45

Star used to mark Jews in Holocaust
Star used to mark Jews in Holocaust
Israel news photo: (file)

Australian authorities have agreed to deport 88-year-old Charles Zentai, an immigrant from Hungary suspected of war crimes in connection to the brutal slaying of a Jewish youth during the Holocaust. Zentai is accused of torturing and murdering Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944.

Balazs, 18, was murdered for failing to wear a yellow star marking him as Jewish.

At the time of the murdered, Zentai was serving in the Hungarian army. He claims innocence in the case, and says he was not in Budapest when Balazs was killed.

Hungary requested Zentai's deportation to face war crimes charges. Zentai and his family have been challenging the deportation order for several years, and said this week that they would continue to fight. They argue that he will not be granted a fair trial in Hungary, particularly as there are no living witnesses to the crime.

The Simon Weisenthal Center submitted evidence of Zentai's alleged anti-Jewish war crimes to authorities in Hungary and Australia in 2004, kicking off the process that has led to the court battle over Zentai's deportation. Weisenthal Center officials expressed satisfaction with the latest development in the case, but warned that Zentai may now attempt to feign poor health in order to avoid deportation on humanitarian grounds, as have other Nazi war crimes suspects.

If the deportation orders against Zentai are carried out, he will become the first Australian citizen to be deported to face charges relating to war crimes committed during the Holocaust. Nazi war criminal Konrads Kalejs, also an Australian citizen, was ordered deported in 2001, but died before the order was carried out.