An alleged Nazi war criminal is eligible for extradition to Hungary to face his accusers, an Australian court ruled.
Magistrate Barbara Lane remanded Charles (Karoly) Zentai to custody after ruling Wednesday in Perth Magistrates’ Court that the case met the requirements of the Australian Extradition Act.
Zentai, 86, was released on bail, however, following an appeal to the Federal Court. The appeal was granted on condition that he surrenders his passports.
Hungary accuses Zentai of murdering Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Budapest Jew who was not wearing his mandatory yellow Star of David in 1944.
Zentai, who lost an appeal to the nation’s highest court in April, is expected to appeal the extradition decision to Federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus, who has the final authority on whether to surrender Zentai.
Outside court in Perth on Wednesday, one of Zentai’s sons, Gabriel Steiner, said the verdict could kill his father.
“He can’t feel his legs, he’s got a bad heart, he’s been in and out of hospital” with a heart attack two weeks ago, Steiner said. “So this could kill him to be dragged away from his family and friends and his home.”
Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, the Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, welcomed the decision. In a statement from Jerusalem, he called the decision “a giant step forward toward achieving historic justice.”
Australia has never before extradited an alleged war criminal. In 2001, it was preparing to extradite alleged Nazi war criminal Konrads Kalejs to his native Latvia, but he died during the process.