Zentai stroke prevents appearance at extradition appeal


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Charles (Karoly) Zentai, an accused Nazi war criminal living in Australia, suffered a stroke that prevented him from appearing in court in his long-running extradition case.

Zentai, 89, was due Monday in the Federal Court in Perth to hear an appeal by the federal government to a court decision last year that spared Zentai from extradition to his native Hungary. The court on Tuesday agreed to reserve an opinion.

Hungary has requested that Zentai be extradited for the alleged murder in 1944 of Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Jew who allegedly was killed because he was not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David.

Since the case first surfaced in 2005, Zentai has strenuously denied the allegations, saying he was not in Budapest on the day of the incident.

Zentai’s son, Ernie Steiner, said the stress of the legal action caused the stroke May 13 and that his father would not survive extradition.

"It would kill him,” Steiner told reporters on Monday. “The stress of even something like today is enormous, the concern, the worry.

“It’s inhumane, when all of this could be handled in Australia. They could send people over here to question him,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor approved Zentai’s extradition in 2009, but the ruling was overturned last July by Justice Neil McKerracher, who said O’Connor’s decision was outside his jurisdiction.


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