Accused Nazi refused legal aid


An accused Nazi war criminal living in Australia has been refused legal aid and is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Charles (Karoly) Zentai, 86, has been told he will have to pay for his own defense at a three-day extradition hearing in Perth beginning Aug. 18, The Australian newspaper reported Saturday.

The pensioner has repeatedly denied charges of murdering Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Jew in Budapest who was not wearing the mandatory Star of David in 1944. He is now wanted in Hungary to face trial over the case.

Zentai lost an appeal to the High Court in April, and was ordered to pay costs estimated at more than $200,000. He owns his home, but has already spent more than $100,000 on defending his case.

If he loses the extradition hearing in August, he can only be saved by federal minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus, who can overrule the magistrate’s decision based on ill health. Zentai is believed to have a heart disorder.

Otherwise he could become the first alleged war criminal ever extradited by Australia.

Zentai is number seven on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most-wanted list and was discovered as part of Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff’s Operation Last Chance in 2005. Zuroff has long been critical of Australia for harboring Nazi war criminals.

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