Thursday, August 16, 2012

Abbas urges Egypt to destroy underground tunnels

From JPost, 11 Aug 2012, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

For first time, Palestinian Authority publicly calls for destruction of underground tunnels, asking Egypt to destroy those along its border with Gaza to tighten blockade.
Buoyed by growing tensions between Hamas and Egypt in wake of last week's terror attack in Sinai, the Palestinian Authority Saturday called on the Egyptians to tighten the blockade on the Gaza Strip by destroying all underground tunnels along their shared border.
The PA said that the tunnels do not contribute to the economy in the Gaza Strip and are being used only by a small number of people for personal gain.
This was the first time that the PA had ever called publicly for the destruction of the underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
The appeal came as PA officials continued to insist that some of the terrorists who killed 16 Egyptian border guards had come from the Gaza Strip.
The officials are hoping that tough Egyptian security measures in Sinai, including the destruction of the tunnels, would undermine Hamas's rule in the Gaza Strip and possibly bring about its collapse.
In the past few days, senior officials in Ramallah have been working hard to convince the Egyptians that Hamas and other radical groups in the Gaza Strip were linked, in one way or another, to the terror attack.
The PA has also provided the Egyptian authorities with the names of several suspects from the Gaza Strip, a PA security source in Ramallah disclosed.
"We have good security ties with the Egyptians and we are trying to help them capture the terrorists," the source explained. "We have good reason to believe that terror groups from the Gaza Strip were involved in the attack. These groups operate under the looking eye of the Hamas government and sometimes even receive support from it."
The Sinai terror attack came at a time when PA leaders in the West Bank were beginning to express concern over improved relations between Cairo and Hamas in light of the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy as president.
Many Egyptians have held Hamas responsible for the terror attack, claiming that the terrorists had entered Sinai though underground tunnels that are under the strict supervision of the Hamas government.
Some Egyptians have urged their government to retaliate by destroying the tunnels and permanently closing the Rafah border crossing.
...Dismissing claims that the tunnels are being used to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Abdel Raheem said that the tunnels serve only a small group of people – a reference to Hamas leaders...

The war against the Jews

Charles Zentai case is the last straw

From The Australian, 16 August 2012, by Nicola Berkovic and Cameron Stewart: 

Nazi-hunters say the decades-long push to bring World War II war criminals living in Australia to justice all but ended yesterday with the High Court's ruling against Charles Zentai's extradition to Hungary.
The 90-year-old Perth man had been accused of beating a Jewish teenager to death and throwing his body in the Danube River in Nazi-occupied Budapest in November 1944.
Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the government could not order Mr Zentai's extradition to Hungary because the offence of "war crime" did not exist under Hungary's laws in 1944.
The decision draws to a close the era of Nazi war crimes prosecutions in Australia - a troubled hunt that resulted in [just] four failed court cases over 25 years ...
At its height, from 1987 to 1992, a Special Investigations Unit set up by the Hawke government examined up to 800 cases of suspected Nazi-era war criminals living in Australia...
Some questioned whether Australia's heart was really in the hunt to prosecute crimes committed half a century earlier.
A 2006 US-government commissioned report accused Australia of having "an ambivalent" attitude to hunting Nazi war criminals and a "lack of the requisite political will".
...the ruling infuriated the Jewish community.
Efraim Zuroff, from the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, labelled it a black day for Australian justice and a terrible day for survivors of the Holocaust.
...not one attempt to bring accused Nazi war criminals in Australia to justice had succeeded, and he believed it was now the end of the line.
"We are up against obstacles that are simply impossible," Mr Zuroff said. "If there is no judicial will to bring the criminals from World War II to justice in Australia, then it won't happen."
...In a 5-1 decision, the High Court said ... that, although the offence of murder existed in Hungary in 1944, Hungary had not requested Mr Zentai's extradition for murder; rather, it had requested his extradition for the offence of "war crime".
Dissenting judge Dyson Heydon said that point was an "extremely technical one". Justice Heydon said that if Mr Zentai was returned to Hungary and convicted, an accurate answer if someone later asked him what he was convicted for was "beating a Jew to death in Budapest in 1944".
"The questioner could equally accurately answer: 'That's murder. That was certainly an offence in Hungary in 1944'," Justice Heydon said.
Hungary enacted laws in 1945 that retrospectively introduced the war crimes offence....

Holocaust Survivors yet again, see justice denied

From the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Descendants, 16 August 2012, by Anna Berger, President:

The decision by the Australian High Court not to extradite Charles Zentai is deeply disappointing and disturbing.
A properly constituted judiciary in post Holocaust Hungary found that this man had a case to answer and has been attempting to have him do so for decades. The judgement not to comply with Hungary’s extradition request seems to rest on an odd interpretation of a point of law, without any semblance of justice.
Among its potentially unwanted and unexpected consequences are the message of comfort to other possible war criminals that Australia is a safe haven while ironically denying Zentai himself the opportunity of proving his claims of innocence.
Sadly, for Holocaust Survivors, now frail and elderly, who have for 6 decades and more been proud Australian citizens, today’s announcement is deeply hurtful. For them, this has opened old wounds and reminded them of a time when they were denied the very semblance of human rights and dignity. Yet again, they see justice denied.


From the WIESENTHAL CENTER, August 15, ‏2012:

SWC Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center harshly criticized this morning’s decision by the Australian High Court to block the extradition to Hungary for war crimes of suspected Nazi collaborator Charles (Karoly) Zentai. In a statement issued here by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center questioned the basis for the rejection of the Hungarian extradition request and noted that numerous Nazi war criminals had been extradited from countries of refuge to stand trial in Germany for crimes which had not yet been categorized as such when they were committed.
According to Zuroff:
“Today’s unfortunate decision to refuse the Hungarian extradition request appears to ignore numerous legal precedents which in the past facilitated the prosecution of the leaders of the Third Reich and additional Nazi war criminals. In practical terms, it signals a dismal conclusion to Australia’s totally unsuccessful efforts to bring to justice any of the numerous Nazi war criminals who found refuge in the country. Today is a sad day for Australia, and for justice, but most of all for the Nazis’ victims, their families and those who empathize with their suffering. Our sympathies today are with the Balazs family, whose brother Peter was  the victim of Zentai and his accomplices, and who tried to see justice achieved in this case, but were thwarted by the Australian authorities.”

Charles Zentai Still Stands Accused

Charles Zentai: accused of a brutal murder
 (Photo by AP)
The Australian High Court’s decision not to extradite Charles Zentai to Hungary allows the accused to avoid facing trial for alleged brutal murder. With all due respect to the learned judges, the decision is a damning indictment of the Australian legal system.
The Hungarian application to extradite Zentai sought to bring him to face charges for a "war crime". The High Court upheld an appeal against the extradition on the basis that the alleged behaviour (beating a Jewish boy, Péter Balázs, to death for failing to wear a yellow star) was not a "war crime" in Hungary in 1944, when it allegedly occurred.
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. Under German law at the time, genocide was legal.
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.
Overwhelming evidence against him was presented at 1946-7 trials for the murder of Péter Balázs in which Zentai’s commanding officer, Bela Máder, and his fellow officer Lajos Nagy were found guilty.
According to the evidence presented at Nagy's trial:
  • Between the hours of 3 pm and 8 pm, on 8 November 1944, Zentai and Nagy beat Balázs so badly that by 8 pm he lay dying.
  • Zentai, Máder and Nagy saw that the boy was dying, and then went to an adjoining room and began drinking.
  • A number of other prisoners detained that night at the same police station, testified that Captain Máder decided to show them the dying man, warning each of them ‘That's the way you will go too’; and that, according to his photograph, the victim was Péter Balázs.
This evidence is in the public domain. The failure of the extradition application in no way discredits that evidence, which has not been tested. Until Zentai faces proper legal proceedings, he continues to stand accused.
On a personal note:
My father died when I was almost 50 years old. For the entire 50 years he often awoke at night crying out in anguish in the midst of a nightmare... remnants of the memories he bore to the grave.
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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Australian High Court decision on extradition of Charles Zentai

15 August 2012:
The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Dr Danny Lamm, said today:

“The High Court’s decision today means that Charles Zentai will not be extradited to Hungary. This is a sad day for the family of Peter Balazs and those who wish Zentai to face his accusers. Zentai himself initially said that he was anxious to return to Hungary to clear his name, but that line was quickly abandoned.”
“The violent death of the young boy Peter Balazs in Hungary in 1944 was completely unrelated to any military operations which were then under way. The alleged conduct therefore constituted not only a war crime but also murder. Most civilized countries, including Australia, do not place a legal time limit on bringing murder charges.”
“From the reasoning of the majority of the judges of the High Court it appears that if the offence in relation to which extradition was sought had been specified by the Hungarian government as “murder” rather than solely as a “war crime”, Zentai would not have been able to resist extradition. The decision of the High Court will of course be respected and adhered to even though to many people it will seem like the triumph of narrow formal legalism over substantive justice.”
“Although the Australian Jewish community has not been involved in the proceedings, it has the highest proportion of Holocaust survivors of any community outside of Israel. We appreciate the efforts made by successive Attorneys General and their Department....”