BERLIN (JTA) — A Budapest court tossed a libel case against Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff when the 97-year-old plaintiff, Sandor Kepiro, did not appear for the final court date.
The Central District Court in the Pest district dismissed the case Thursday, having warned Kepiro and his attorney on the first court date, Oct. 8, that the trial would be over if they did not show up on Dec. 16.
Kepiro’s lawyer, Zetenyi Zsolt, is likely to appeal the decision within the required eight days, Zuroff’s attorney, Marton Rosta, told JTA.
Kepiro filed suit after Zuroff, the head of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, submitted documents to the Hungarian courts in 2006 regarding Kepiro’s alleged role in the murders of 1,246 civilians in Novi Sad. Most of the victims, including Jews, Serbs and Roma, were taken to the Danube River and shot in January 1943.
Kepiro reportedly was found guilty twice of involvement — once by the pre-Nazi Hungarian courts and after the war in absentia.
In his suit, Kepiro charged that Zuroff had proclaimed him guilty before a trial.
The dismissal was a relief, Zuroff told JTA in a phone call from Budapest, though he noted the possibility of an appeal.
"I consider this whole thing to be legal harassment and diversion from the issue," Zuroff said. "The key issue is the prosecution of Kepiro. I will not be satisfied until he is prosecuted."
Zuroff said he expected to receive news by late January as to whether the prosecutor’s office in Budapest would file war crimes charges against Kepiro.