UK & World News
Hungary: Suspected Nazi War Criminal Charged
Hungarian authorities have charged a 97-year-old man with war crimes amid allegations he was a police officer who helped organise the deportation of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz during World War Two.
Laszlo Csatary has been living undisturbed in Budapest since the mid-1990s, but last year was tracked down by the Jewish human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Csatary had been a senior police officer in the now-Slovakian city of Kosice and is accused of taking part in the deportation of some 16,000 Jews between 1941 and 1944.
In 1948, a then-Czechoslovakian court sentenced Csatary - who the Wiesenthal Centre claims was in charge of the Jewish ghetto in Kosice - to death in absentia.
Since being identified in Budapest, the NGO has demanded Hungary act to bring the suspected war criminal to justice - but prosecutors appeared reluctant to move.
The events "took place 68 years ago in an area that now falls under the jurisdiction of another country - which also with regard to the related international conventions raises several investigative and legal problems", a statement said.
Earlier this week, a group of students staged a protest outside the apartment where he was thought to live, placing a crossed out swastika sticker on the door.
On Wednesday, authorities in Hungary said Csatary, number one on the Wiesenthal Centre's most wanted Nazi war criminal list, had been taken into custody.
State prosecutor Tibor Ibolya told reporters the elderly suspect has denied charges against him, adding: "One of his arguments in his defence is that he was obeying orders.
"The suspect is in good physical and mental health. He is being co-operative. He was surprised (about being arrested) but he expected to be questioned."
Csatary, whose full name is Laszlo Csizsik-Csatary, escaped to Canada in 1949 and became a Canadian citizen in 1955. He went on to work as an art dealer in Montreal.
But, in 1997, his citizenship was revoked after it was found he obtained it through "false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances".
Canadian authorities said Csatary left the country, apparently bound for Europe, before they had the chance to decide his fate in a deportation hearing.
The Wiesenthal Centre said it was tipped off about the alleged war criminal's whereabouts by an informant who would be paid if and when Csatary is convicted.