August 17, 2011
Alleged Nazi war criminal’s extradition refered to minister
The long-running Australian court battle to extradite an alleged Nazi war criminal to his native Hungary has been boosted by a Federal Court decision.
Three judges agreed Tuesday to refer the extradition case of Charles Zentai, who is accused of murdering 18-year-old Peter Balasz in Budapest in 1944, back to Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor.
O’Connor originally approved Zentai’s extradition to Hungary in 2009 to face a murder charge, but his decision was overturned on appeal last year.
The government appealed against that decision and three judges this week upheld two out of the three grounds on which it appealed.
Zentai, who has fiercely defended his innocence since he was first arrested in 2005, can lodge a further appeal in the High Court.
Australia has never before extradited an accused Nazi war criminal.
Observers worry that Zentai, who is 89 and frail, will die during the lengthy appeals process. That was the fate of Konrads Kalejs, also an alleged Nazi war criminal who died in Melbourne in 2001, aged 88, while his case crawled through the courts.