Thursday, April 24, 2008

Charles Zentai extradition case

From The Australian, by Paige Taylor April 24, 2008:

ACCUSED Nazi-era war criminal Charles Zentai should be tried in Australia, not Hungary, his son Ernie Steiner says.

Mr Zentai yesterday came a step closer to being extradited to Budapest, where he is wanted for the wartime murder of a teenage Jew 63 years ago. ...his family claim he would not receive a fair trial ...“It would be far better for him if he could defend the criminal charge here in Australia, rather than having to go Hungary where he will face a military court,” Mr Steiner told The Australian....

... the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, claims Mr Zentai has nothing to fear if he is innocent. “Hungary is a democracy with a reputable justice system. This is not communist Hungary,” said the SWC's Jerusalem-based director Efraim Zuroff. “It is independent, democratic Hungary which is a member of NATO and the European Union, and it issued the extradition request for Charles Zentai in 2005 based on its assessment of the available evidence.”

Alexander Zahar, former senior legal adviser to the United Nations judiciary in The Hague, waded into the debate yesterday, saying: “There is no reason accused war criminal Charles Zentai would not receive a fair trial in the Hungarian military court if he is extradited. “Hungary has a good human rights record and a sophisticated judiciary,” Dr Zahar said. “Mr Zentai is a fugitive from justice, there is no statute of limitations on his alleged offence, and unless he is really too ill to travel, which is something which will be properly attended to, he should go and face the allegations. “His age and the antiquity of the alleged crime is otherwise not relevant.”

... Mr Zentai is due to face Perth Magistrates Court for an extradition hearing date in August, but that is likely to come sooner since his loss in the High Court yesterday.

If the court decides he is eligible for extradition, Mr Zentai's last avenue will be with the federal Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus. Mr Debus can cancel an extradition on several grounds, including humanitarian.

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