Australia is considering a request from Hungary to extradite a suspected Nazi
war criminal wanted for allegedly beating to death a Jewish teenager during World
War II, the justice minister said Wednesday.
Charles Zentai, 86, has been under investigation by Hungary's Foreign Ministry
since December on suspicion that he murdered 18-year-old
Peter Balazs in November 1944 for failing to wear a yellow
star identifying him as a Jew. The Los Angeles-based Simon
Wiesenthal Center alleges Zentai beat Balazs to death in
a Budapest army barracks.
The Hungarian-born Zentai, who now
lives in Perth, capital of Western Australia state, has denied
the allegation. He could not immediately be contacted Wednesday
"We have had an official
request from the Hungarian government for the extradition
of Mr. Charles Zentai on suspected war crimes," Australia's Justice Minister Chris Ellison said. "That will be processed in accordance with our extradition laws. Of course Mr.
Zentai, like any person in Australia, has a presumption of
innocence until proven guilty and of course that presumption
of innocence must apply in this case."
Zentai was tracked down as part of
the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Operation Last Chance - a
campaign aimed at locating and prosecuting World War II war
Targeting people in the Baltic states, Croatia, Austria,
Hungary, Poland and Romania, the campaign
has so far identified about 300 suspects. It offers up to
US$10,000 (ВЂ7,700) for information leading to the prosecution
of war crimes suspects.
April 27, 2005