Slovak court moves toward imprisoning war criminal in Hungary

(JTA) — A Slovak court commuted a death sentence against Laszlo Csatary, a war criminal whom Slovakia wants extradited from Hungary for his complicity in murdering thousands of Jews.

A Czechoslovakian court in 1948 sentenced Csatary in absentia to death for torturing Jews and helping to deport them to the Auschwitz death camp when he served as police commander in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice.

For decades Csatary, now 98, escaped the sentence until he was detained and placed under house arrest last July in Budapest by Hungarian authorities. He has denied any guilt.

The sentence was changed this week to be in line with modern Slovak law, Reuters reported Friday. Czechoslovakia abolished the death penalty in 1990, three years before its division into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Kosice prosecutor’s office spokesman Milan Filicko said.

"Once the decision takes effect, the court will decide whether it will issue an arrest warrant or how it will get him to serve the sentence," he said.

Filicko said Csatary could appeal the decision, which would send the case to the Slovak High Court. Slovakia’s Jewish community has called for Csatary to be extradited.

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