World

Accused Nazi eligible for extradition: Australian court

An 86-year-old man accused of killing a Jewish teenager in Hungary during the Second World War can be extradited to Hungary to face charges, an Australian judge found Wednesday.

An 86-year-old man accused of killing a Jewish teenager in Hungary during the Second World War can be extradited to Hungary to face charges, an Australian judge found Wednesday.

Lawyers for former Hungarian soldier Charles Zentai said they will appeal the decision, handed down in Western Australia's Perth Magistrates Court. If it is upheld, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus will make the final determination on whether Zentai should be extradited.

Zentai, an Australian citizen, is listed by the U.S.-based Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center among its 10 most wanted Nazis as having "participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944."

Hungary accuses Zentai of torturing and killing 18-year-old Peter Balazs in a Budapest army barracks on Nov. 8, 1944, for failing to wear a star that would identify him as a Jew.

Zentai, who emigrated to Australia in 1950, has denied the allegations.

On Wednesday, Magistrate Barbara Lane said Zentai's case and circumstances met the requirements of the Australian Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty between Australia and the Republic of Hungary.

Zentai's lawyers said they would apply for bail.

Outside court, one of Zentai's sons, Gabriel Steiner, said justice could never be served by persecuting the innocent.

"They got the wrong man," he said.

Debus, the federal minister, said he would consider all material at a later date before making a decision on extradition.

"As the matter's still before the court, it's not appropriate for me to comment at this stage," Debus said.