Hungarian police have launched an investigation into an incident in which the far-right website Kuruc offered a 100,000 Forint, approximately $420, reward those able to provide information on individuals who demonstrated outside the home of suspected war criminal Laszlo Csatary on July 16.
Many of the anti-Nazi demonstrators have since been harassed by far-right activists, according to a Hungarian website.
The protesters demonstrated demanding action after British journalists discovered Csatary’s whereabouts, months after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre had notified the government that he was resident in Hungary.
Csatary is accused of playing a key role in the deportation of 15,700 Jews from Kosice, now in Slovakia, in 1944. He is also suspected of having served in 1941 as the chief of police and commander of a Jewish ghetto in the city of Kosice, located in eastern Slovakia.
Prime Minister’s Office state secretary Peter Szijjarto asked US authorities during his visit to Washington last week to shut down the US-based server that hosts the Kuruc website. However, US authorities say such action would violate the country’s laws on freedom of expression.
Csatary’s detention comes amid international concern over moves by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to introduce laws that have been viewed as compromising the independence of democratic institutions, including the judiciary and the news media.
While Orban’s center-right party, Fidesz, has taken steps to meet international demands to revise some of the changes, there are still concerns over a shift to the right.
Meanwhile, Hungarian President Janos Ader travelled to Israel in order to attend a ceremony at the Knesset in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from perishing in the Holocaust by issuing them with Swedish “protective passports.”
An invitation to the speaker of Hungary’s National Assembly was rescinded after reports emerged that he attended a memorial service for an anti-Semitic writer.
In an open letter to the Hungarian president, Zuroff wrote that Csatary’s detention could send a strong signal that Hungary remains committed to Europe’s democratic principles.
“One of the most effective ways to combat the rising wave of anti-Semitism, racism and right-wing extremism in Hungary is to bring to justice those who were inspired to commit Holocaust crimes by the same ultranationalism that is once again rearing its ugly head in your country,” he said.