BUDAPEST (JTA) — Hungarian state officials questioned and confiscated the passport of an alleged Nazi collaborator.
Tuesday’s questioning of Sandor Kepiro by the Hungarian State Prosecutor Service may mark the start of the first major war crimes trial in Hungary since the collapse of Soviet administration 20 years ago.
Kepiro, 95, who has lived openly in Hungary for the past three years, is accused by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of involvement in the murder of some 1,200 Jews, Serbs and Gypsies by the wartime Hungarian Gendarmerie at Novi Sad in 1942.
He was found guilty on charges arising from the massacre shortly after the event by an independent Hungarian court, but his sentence was quashed after the invasion of the country by Nazi Germany in 1944.
Gabriella Skoda, a specialist spokesperson for the prosecution service, said Tuesday that the files are being reopened on the strength of fresh documentary evidence supplied by Serbia.
As many as 20 important surviving Nazi war criminals of Hungarian origin are still to be brought to justice, according to Peter Feldmajer, chairman of the Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities.
After the World War II, Kepiro escaped first to Austria and then Argentina, eventually returning home on the assumption that his case would not be reopened in the absence of fresh evidence. He now lives in an elegant district of Buda across the street from a thriving synagogue.
Kepiro was discovered in Budapest in 2006 by Ephraim Zuroff, the American-born Israeli historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem.
Anxious to prosecute the case, the city of Novi Sad has granted Zuroff honorary citizenship.