Hungary investigates 'war criminal'


Hungary is investigating whether a Holocaust-era war criminal has been living in the capital Budapest, as international and domestic groups clamoured for him to be placed on trial.

Budapest prosecutors said they were investigating a case based on information received from Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre?s Jerusalem office, but did not name the suspect.

The centre has told prosecutors that a man named Laszlo Csatary living in Budapest is believed to be the same Laszlo Csatary who was police chief in 1941 in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary, where he played a ?key role? in the deportation of 300 Jews to Ukraine, where they were killed.

Csatary, who the centre says would now be 97, is also suspected of helping to organise the 1944 deportation of some 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.

A group of students held a protest yesterday at an apartment building in Budapest where Csatary is thought to have lived until recently, while the opposition Socialist Party called on Chief Prosecutor Peter Polt to indict him
for war crimes.

Csatary was nowhere to be seen and officials have not provided any information on his whereabouts.

In April a man named Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary was placed at the top of the Wiesenthal Centre?s list of its most wanted war crimes suspects.

Csizsik-Csatary had been convicted in absentia for war crimes in Hungary in 1948 and sentenced to death. He arrived in 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 His citizenship had been revoked in August and the deportation order was based on his obtaining citizenship through ?false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances?.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokeswoman Nancy Caron said it had been alleged that Csatary had failed to provide information concerning his collaboration with Nazi occupation forces while serving with the Royal Hungarian
Police and, while in this service, his participation in the internment and deportation to concentration camps of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Rabbi Slomo Koves of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation said members were ?pretty shocked that somebody like this is living in Budapest ... and living between us?.

?But I think it is also in a way some relief that there are still organisations that do these jobs and that find these people,? he said.