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Nazi war crime suspect evades justice, in this life - by dying

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For many, justice has been cruelly denied with the act of a nearly 100-year-old man -- by simply dying. A 98-year-old Hungarian man and accused Nazi war criminal has passed away from pneumonia. The man in question, Laszlo Csatary, had been wanted for alleging sending 16,000 Jews to their death during World War II.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Csatary topped the dwindling list of surviving Nazi war crimes suspects. His lawyer says that Csatary died in the hospital over the weekend after contracting pneumonia. Holocaust survivors seeking some justice are bitterly disappointed.

Csatary was allegedly involved in the deportations of as many as 15,700 Jews from a town in present-day Slovakia to Nazi death camps. After being sentenced to death in absentia in 1948, Csatary fled to Canada, where he lived and worked as an art dealer before being stripped of his citizenship in the 1990s.

Extradited to Hungary, Csatary lived undisturbed for years. Prosecutors only began investigating his case in late 2011 after pressure from the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center.

He was eventually charged with involvement and assisting in the 1944 deportations of Jews from a ghetto in Kassa, now known as Kosice.

Hi accusers claimed that he "regularly beat the interned Jews with his bare hands and whipped them with a dog-whip without any special reasons, regardless of their sex, age or health."

Placed under house arrest in June of last year, and activists demanded that Csatary he be put on trial. "We shall never forget," shouted both elderly and younger people outside his home in Budapest while they formed a human chain.

A court later suspended the trial, saying Csatary had already been convicted. Others questioned whether it was fair to prosecute a frail, elderly man.

Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, Efraim Zuroff,, believes it's never too late for justice. His organization wants to continue the hunt for the dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals still alive.

"When you look at a man like Csatary, don't see an old frail individual," he said. "Think of someone at the height of his physical powers who was devoting all his energy to the mass murder of innocent people. Old age should not offer protection to people who committed such heinous crimes." He adds that many Holocaust victims never had the opportunity to become old and frail as they were murdered in Auschwitz and other death camps.

Csatary maintained his innocence to the end. The Csatary case unfolded amid concerns within the influential Catholic Church about rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, which was a close ally of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo has made it a point to participate in the annual Budapest March of the Living to remember the Holocaust, in which 600,000 Hungarian Jews were among the millions of victims.

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