Hungary charges Nazi-era suspect with war crimes

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Thorlifter, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Hungary charges Nazi-era suspect with war crimes - Yahoo! News

    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A 97-year-old Hungarian man suspected of abusing Jews and helping deport thousands of them during the Holocaust was taken into custody Wednesday, questioned and charged with war crimes, prosecutors said.

    The case of Laszlo Csatary was brought to the attention of Hungarian authorities last year by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization active in hunting down Nazis who have yet to be brought to justice.

    In April, Csatary topped the organization's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals.

    Prosecutors decided to charge Csatary with the "unlawful torture of human beings," a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

    Csatary's lawyer, Gabor Horvath B., said that a judge, acting on a request from prosecutors, ordered his client to be confined to house arrest for a maximum of 30 days. Horvath B. said he had appealed the ruling, which also opened the way for authorities to confiscate Csatary's passport.

    As he left a Budapest courthouse Wednesday afternoon following the house arrest hearing, Csatary walked slowly down a flight of steps, leaning on a companion for support. He wore a thin jacket and tried to cover his face from photographers and TV crews. He did not speak with reporters but appeared bewildered by the attention.

    Tibor Ibolya, Budapest's acting chief prosecutor, said Csatary recounted his Holocaust-era activities to authorities during questioning, saying he was following orders and carrying out his duty.

    "The suspect denied having committed the crimes," Ibolya said, adding that during his testimony Csatary's "attitude toward some of his fellow men of a certain religion ... is not what we would consider normal."

    Prosecutors detained Csatary in an early morning sweep because they were worried he may try to flee. He has lived at least in two separate Budapest apartments during the last few months.

    "We took Csatary into custody at dawn from an address to which he had no connection until now," Ibolya said. "He cooperated with investigators."

    Csatary's lawyer said his client had moved to a new location because he was tired of being badgered. On Monday, 40 people held a protest outside one of Csatary's purported homes but he was nowhere to be seen.

    According to a summary of the case released by prosecutors, Csatary was a police officer in the Slovakian city of Kosice, at a time part of Hungary.

    In May 1944, Csatary was named chief of an internment camp at a Kosice brick factory from where 12,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. Authorities said Csatary was present when the trains were loaded and sent on their way.

    Csatary "regularly" used a dog whip against the Jewish detainees "without any special reasons and irrespective of the assaulted people's sex, age or health condition," the prosecutors' statement said.

    As one train departed with some 80 Jews crammed into one railcar, Csatary refused a request by one of the Jews to cut holes in the walls of the wagon to let more air in, the statement said.

    "We took into consideration the severity of his acts, but we should not forget that the suspect is due the presumption of innocence," Ibolya said. "In our estimation, he will not be able to escape."

    Ibolya said considering Csatary's age, he was in good physical and mental condition, although experts had yet to examine him.

    Csatary was been convicted in absentia for war crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and sentenced to death. He arrived in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia the following year, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal.

    In October 1997, Canadian authorities said the 82-year-old had left the country, apparently bound for Europe, before they had the chance to decide his fate in a deportation hearing. His citizenship had been revoked in August and the deportation order was based on his obtaining citizenship by giving false information.

    Canadian authorities alleged that Csatary had failed to provide information concerning his collaboration with Nazi occupation forces while serving with the Royal Hungarian Police and his participation in the internment and deportation to concentration camps of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

    Ibolya said the investigation into the Csatary case was continuing and that prosecutors were waiting for information from Israel, including the possible testimony of survivors, and Canada.

    "I expect this case to continue for months, even taking into account that we are treating it as one that we would like to conclude as soon as possible," Ibolya said.

    In Israel, Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, applauded the arrest.

    "When you look at a person like this, you shouldn't see an old frail person, but think of a man who at the height of his physical powers devoted all his energy to murdering or persecuting and murdering innocent men, women and children," Zuroff told the AP.

    Zuroff, often described as the world's top Nazi hunter, was able to locate Csatary with the help an unidentified, paid informant.

    In 2002, he launched "Operation Last Chance," which offers rewards for information on suspected Holocaust-era war criminals and lobbies for governments to put them on trial.

    Hungarian prosecutors say Zuroff first told officials about Csatary in September 2011, meeting with them as recently as July 9 to provide more data about him.

    While prosecutors acknowledge Zuroff's role in the case, they have also criticized him for alerting the press in April about his findings.

    Ibolya, Budapest's acting chief prosecutor, said that by making the case public, Zuroff may also have put Csatary on alert, increasing the chance that he would try to escape and "greatly endangering the success of the investigation."

    A year ago, another elderly suspect uncovered by Zuroff's reward program, Sandor Kepiro, was acquitted of war crime charges by a Budapest court because of insufficient evidence. Kepiro died in September at age 97, while the ruling was being appealed.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If Europeans pursue communist era crimes with the same zeal they could be hauling people into court for the next several decades. Isn't it about time for the vengence to end? All of this is the result of WWII, a conflict that ended 67 years ago.
     
  3. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I have to disagree Dave. This man committed terrible crimes against thousands of helpless, defenseless people. I believe justice does not have a expiration date in this case!!
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Time does not diminish the fact that these were crimes against humanity. This isn't vengeance, this is justice. There is a clear difference.
     
  5. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It it vengence, or justice ? He made sure the people he deported to the death camps were as miserable on that final journey as possible, they've been dead over 65 years, while he's had a full life.

    I'd save my pity for them, not him.
     
  6. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Vengeance describes his action better than those trying to bring him to justice.
     
  7. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I think I see your point Dave, after all, this is just a 97 year old man who is probably living day to day at that age and his time on this earth will be over. (correct me if I'm wrong)

    However, I have to disagree with you as this man directed 12,000 people to their death. I'm my eyes, he must be held accountable for his actions.

    That does bring up another question though. "IF" he was truly just following orders, what would have happened if he refused? Would he have been shot? So in his mind it's either I send these people away or I die for these "worthless Jews". I mean no disrespect to anyone, I'm just trying to understand the mindset of his situation. I mean, if you were placed in charge of a prison camp, were well schooled in the Nazi philosophy and brain washing of all the inferior races, what would you have done? I would say the righteous man would have laid down his own life, but the Nazi's were far from being righteous.

    My point is "IF" he was just following orders out of fear for his own life, in any sense does that give him justification for his action? I don't think so but I'd like to hear what you guys think.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Do we pursue people responsible for deportations to the Soviet Gulag with equal zeal? Or are Nazi murders somehow worse then communist murders?
     
  9. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I think if there was access to those in the Soviet population guilty of similar atrocities, I would equally agree if it was done in a world court, or as a cooperative effort by many nations.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Soviet population is not a Hungarian problem.

    Hungary was communist controlled for a long time. I suspect they have a lot more communist collaborators then Nazi collaborators.
     
  11. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Messy1, Jul 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
    My comment was meant to point out that Russia would not have allowed access, or the ability to bring those criminals to trial. Referring to the Soviet population I was referring to those who committed similar offenses, or those who worked for the Russians, and those being of Russian nationalities, which I doubt Russia would have allowed to be prosecuted, especially during the Cold War protected. We did not, and do not have the ability to bring justice to the people involved with the Russian camps as we do the Germans. Russia would have certainly taken any action by the rest of the world to prosecute it's criminals as a insult by democratic regimes to impose those countrie's will over the Russin people, and most definitely a slap in the face. Not too mention it would bring to light Russian atrocities (of which there were many carried out both every nation) and be a major embarrassment to the Russian government.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I disagree.

    The communists used local (in this case Hungarian) people to round up "undesirables" for shipment to the Gulag. No different from Nazi Germany using local people to round up Jews for shipment to Polish death camps.
     
  13. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #13 Messy1, Jul 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
    The difference is Germany unconditionally surrendered and was at the mercy of the Allies, and had no way to stop the trials of war criminals from going forward. The Russians certainly could stop any trials from commencing, just by not wanting to cooperate. And we would now need the total cooperation of the Hungarian government to bring it's countries criminals who aided the Russians to trial. doubt that will happen
     
  14. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Hungary should just deport him to Czechoslovakia. Done.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #15 tyrodtom, Jul 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
    By your line of reasoning dave, because nobody could catch Jack the ripper, we should have let Ted Bundy go.
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    If he did do the things he is accused of, he should answer for them.

    It is not a question of vengence. Attrocities are a crime and the should be accounted for, no matter how long ago, no matter what nation, no matter what side.

    Of course the circumstances the crimes should be considered (war is hell...), but the have to be accounted for.
     
  17. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Agreed Chris.

    If he had performed his duties as directed only, there may have been a chance to excuse him.
    If however it is true he denied the request for extra ventilation in the transport trains and regularly whipped his victims, then that shows he relished his position, and must answer for his actions.
     
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