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Suspected War Criminal is First Indicted Under New Canadian Law

Imre Finta, a 71-year-old Toronto restaurant owner of Hungarian origin, was indicted for war crimes in federal court here Wednesday. He is the first naturalized Canadian citizen to face prosecution under a recently enacted law that allows Canadian courts to try suspected war criminals for crimes committed on foreign soil.

Finta was identified by Sabina Citron, head of the Holocaust Remembrance Association, and several other Holocaust survivors as a former captain in the Honveds, a police force in Nazicontrolled Hungary during World War II. He is said to have tortured and murdered Jews and looted their possessions.

The indictment charges him with crimes committed in the Hungarian city of Szeged between April 7 and July 15, 1944 and later in Austria and Hungary. He is accused of kidnapping and confining 8,615 Jews in concentration camps and of manslaughter in the deaths of an unspecified number. He is believed to have personally murdered 34 Jews for their valuables.

Bail was set at $100,000 (Canadian). No trial date has been announced.

The indictment of Finta has an ironic twist. Three years ago, he sued Citron for libel in civil court for publicly denouncing him as a war criminal. His suit was rejected by the court.

Finta’s name was the first to be made public out of a list of 22 suspected Nazi war criminals against whom a national government commission found sufficient evidence to warrant legal action.

The commission, headed by Quebec Superior Court Justice Jules Deschenes, spent more than a year investigating suspected Nazi war criminals living in Canada.

The commission’s report named another 212 possible suspects who warrant further investigation.

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