Australia’s High Court on Wednesday rejected an extradition request from Hungary for a suspected Nazi war criminal, ending a legal battle that began in 2005.
Charles Zentai and two fellow Hungarian soldiers allegedly beat a Jewish teenager to death in November 1944 for failing to wear the yellow Star of David. They are thought to have thrown the victim’s body into the Danube River in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
In a 5-1 decision, the court ruled that Zentai could not be extradited because “war crime” did not exist as a legal offence in Hungary in 1944, according to Australian media reports.
In doing so, it upheld a 2010 Australian federal court ruling against an extradition order approved by former home affairs minister Brendan O’Connor in 2009. Hungary issued an international arrest warrant and extradition request for Zentai in 2005.
Zentai, now 90, has maintained his innocence, arguing that he left Nazi-occupied Budapest before the crime occurred.