Hungarian war criminal Laszlo Csatary dies at 98

(JTA) — Hungarian war criminal Laszlo Csatary has died while awaiting trial for torturing Jews and deporting thousands of them to their deaths during World War II.

According to the French news agency AFP, Csatary died in a hospital in Budapest on Saturday of complications connected to pneumonia. He was 98.

Csatary, a former police commander of the Kassa internment camp in Slovakia, was sentenced to death in absentia for his crimes in 1948 by a Czechoslovakian court after he fled to Canada. He was deported back to Hungary in 1997 and arrested last year in Budapest, the capital, after the Sun daily newspaper in London published his picture and whereabouts.

“The fact that a well-known war criminal whose Nazi past was exposed in Canada could live undisturbed for so long in the Hungarian capital raises serious questions as to the commitment of the Hungarian authorities to hold their own Holocaust criminals accountable,” the director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement Monday.

Last month, the Metropolitan Tribunal of Budapest suspended Csatary’s trial three weeks after it began, citing double jeopardy because of the 1948 conviction.

Slovakia had asked that Csatary be extradited to face additional charges, but Hungary declined the request.

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