Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

News Brief


An alleged Nazi war criminal living in Perth could be extradited to Hungary.

The Perth Magistrates’ Court on Monday started its proceedings in the case of Charles (Karoly) Zentai, 86, who is accused of torturing and murdering a Jewish teenager for not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David in 1944.

If Magistrate Barbara Lane recommends to the federal government that Zentai be surrendered to his accusers in his native Hungary, the former mental health nurse’s last option would be an appeal to the federal attorney general, Robert McClelland.

Zentai and two other men allegedly killed Peter Balasz and dumped his body in the Danube River. Zentai denies the charges, claiming he left Budapest on Nov. 7, 1944 — the day before the alleged murder. An arrest warrant for Zentai, No. 7 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Most Wanted list, was issued in 2005. The grandfather of 10 and great-grandfather of four lost an appeal in Ausralia’s highest court in April.

Outside the court Monday, Zentai’s son Ernie said his father would not receive a fair trial in Hungary. In a statement, he added that his father was never a Nazi and hated the German occupation of Hungary. Australia has never extradited a Nazi war criminal. Konrads Kalejs died in 2001 while awaiting his extradition to Latvia to face his accusers.

Recommended from JTA