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article imageSimon Wiesenthal Center's most wanted Nazi dies, aged 98

By Robert Myles     Aug 12, 2013 in World
Budapest - Laszlo Csatary died Aug. 10, at the age of 98. He was regarded by the Jewish human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as the world’s most wanted Nazi war criminal still at large.
In June this year, following a dossier of evidence against him having been assembled by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has relentlessly pursued many former Nazis since the end of World War II, charges were laid in the Hungarian courts against Csatary. The charge sheet of Csatary’s alleged crimes comprised acts of torture, summary executions and participating in the deportation of an estimated 15,000 Jews to the extermination camp at Auschwitz. Csatary denied the allegations.
Csatary had become the number one target for the Simon Wiesenthal Center as it presented additional evidence of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity to Hungarian authorities in summer 2012.
During the Nazi era, Csatary had served as a senior Hungarian police officer in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then under Hungarian rule. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, submitted key evidence relating specifically Csatary’s major role in the deportation of approximately 300 Jews from Kosice, in what is now Slovakia, to Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine. Almost all of those transported to Ukraine were murdered during summer 1941.
Previously, the Nazi-hunting investigation team at the Simon Wiesenthal Center had alleged that Csatary was involved in helping to organize the deportation of an estimated 15,700 Jews from Kosice to Auschwitz but it had taken over 60 years to catch up with Csatary and start proceedings to bring him to justice.
In 1948, just three years after the end of the Second World War, authorities in what was then Czechoslovakia convicted Csatary of war crimes and sentenced him, in absentia, to death. (The death sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment by the Slovak courts in spring 2013, intended to pave the way for Csatary’s extradition from Hungary to face trial.)
In 1949, Csatary fled to Canada, claiming to be a Yugoslav national. He settled in Montreal, becoming an art dealer and, his wartime atrocities being unknown to the Canadian authorities, was granted Canadian citizenship in 1955.
But Csatary’s ignominious past came back to haunt him. After revelations concerning his alleged war crimes came to light, his Canadian citizenship was revoked in 1997 after Csatary was found to have misrepresented his past. Once again, Csatary took flight. It was not until 2012 that Csatary was traced to Budapest, Hungary following the Simon Wiesenthal Center receiving a tip-off the previous year.
On June 18, 2012 police in Budapest arrested Csatary who was indicted for war crimes. The Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office said at the time, “He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, (thus) committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice.”
But Csatary was able to escape justice till the end. Although it was thought a trial would start within three months, a higher court in Budapest suspended proceedings against him on July 8, 2013, sustaining an argument of double jeopardy on the basis that Csatary had already been sentenced for the crimes in respect of which he was charged in the former Czechoslovakia back in 1948.
More about Laszlo Csatary, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Nazi war criminals, Holocaust, Crimes against humanity
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