BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — The former head of the Budapest Holocaust Museum criticized Hungarian authorities for not extraditing accused Nazi war criminal Laszlo Csatary to Slovakia, where he has been sentenced to death.
Laszlo Harsanyi, a former Hungarian politician in the Socialist Party, told Klubradio on Wednesday that “Hungary does not really want to condemn Csatary. Due to his age and the usually long legal procedure, the Hungarian authorities will not be able to come to a final verdict in the case” before he dies.
Still, “the Hungarian authorities did not want to extradite him, for some reason,” Harsanyi said.
On Tuesday, Hungarian prosecutors charged Csatary, 98, with beating and whipping Jews as the police commander of the Kassa internment camp before sending about 12,000 in 1944 to be murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz and other death camps, the Hungarian news agency MTI reported. According to Jerusalem’s Wiesenthal Center, Csatary had a key role in the deportation of 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.
Kassa, now located in Slovakia, during World War II was located in Hungary.
A Czechoslovak court sentenced Csatary to death in absentia in 1948 for war crimes. At the time, Csatary had already fled to Canada, which stripped him of his Canadian citizenship in 1997 and forced him to return to his native Hungary.
Observers in Hungary believe Csatary was not deported in order to show the “honest intention” of the Hungarian authorities to condemn Csatary.
In what appears to be a precedent for the Csatary case, accused Nazi war criminal Sandor Kepiro was acquitted in Hungary in July 2011 of the murder of Jews and Serbs in 1942, and died in a hospital in Hungary two months later at the age of 97, while the verdict was under appeal.