A man once known as the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most-wanted Nazi has died in a Budapest hospital after succumbing to pneumonia. Laszlo Csatary was 98.
Holocaust experts say Csatary helped send nearly 16,000 Jews to Nazi death camps, the BBC reported
. He maintained his innocence, arguing that he was nothing more than an intermediary between Hungarian and German officials at the time.
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center named Csatary in 2012 as its most-wanted Nazi suspect. He had fled to Canada after the war and worked as an art dealer in Montreal and Toronto. He disappeared in 1997 after the country stripped him of his Canadian citizenship, but reporters from the Sun newspaper tracked him down in Budapest last summer, where he was then placed him under house arrest.
Hungarian authorities say Csatary was the chief of an internment camp for some 12,000 Jews from Kosice in 1944. The former official was charged with beating prisoners with a dog whip for no reason and was accused of taking an active role in deporting thousands of innocent Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps.
Csatary was sentenced to death in absentia in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Hungarian authorities said that Csatary was a Hungarian police officer during the war who “deliberately provided help to the unlawful executions and torture committed against Jews deported to concentration camps.”
The BBC, however, noted that legal proceedings in Hungary were halted because of double jeopardy; the Hungarian charges were similar to those filed in Czechoslovakia. An appeal was pending.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center lashed out at Hungary for its failure to bring Csatary to justice. In a statement on its website, it said
: “The fact that a well-known war criminal whose Nazi past was exposed in Canada could live undisturbed for so long in the Hungarian capital raises serious questions as to the commitment of the Hungarian authorities to hold their own Holocaust criminals accountable.”
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