SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian judge has paved the way for an alleged Nazi war criminal to be extradited to Hungary.
Justice John Gilmour dismissed an appeal brought by Charles (Karoly) Zentai in Federal Court on Tuesday, ruling that the 87-year-old Perth resident is now eligible for extradition to Hungary, where he will face a charge of murdering a Jew in 1944.
Lawyers for Zentai had claimed that the crime of which he is accused was not an offense according to Hungarian law at the time it was allegedly committed. But Gilmour upheld last year’s decision by an Australian magistrate.
He gave the defense team one week to lodge an appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court and to prove why Zentai, who says he has a heart disease, should not be held in custody until the federal government makes the final decision on his extradition.
Zentai is alleged to have been part of a gang of three soldiers who killed 18-year-old Peter Balazs in Budapest in November 1944 and threw his body in the Danube River. Zentai strenuously denies the claim, saying he was not even in the Hungarian capital at the time.
Zentai, who is named on a list of the top 10 most wanted Nazi war criminals produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has been fighting the case since he was first arrested by Australian Federal Police in 2005.
Australia has never extradited an alleged Nazi war criminal.