98-Year-Old Charged With Nazi War Crimes Maintains Innocence

Laszlo Csatary, 98, has been charged with participation in Nazi war crimes. He reportedly helped deport Jews to the Auschwitz death camp and often tortured them before sending them away. Csatary maintains his innocence and denies any involvement.

According to reports, in 1948, Csatary was found guilty of whipping and/or torturing Jews and helping deport them to Auschwitz. He served as police commander in Kosice in 1944 and oversaw the deportations. After being found guilty, Csatary went on the run for decades, hoping to avoid the death penalty he had been sentenced to.

He went to Canada after World War II and worked as an art dealer. Csatary disappeared again after being stripped of his Canadian citizenship in 1997.

Officials never stopped looking for Csatary, who was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's most wanted list. They finally found him last year and placed him under house arrest in Budapest. A court commuted his sentence to life in prison, and his trial is to begin in three months.

"He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, thus committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice," Bettina Bagoly, a spokeswoman for the Budapest Chief Prosecutor's Office, told Reuters. "With his actions, Laszlo Csatary … deliberately provided help to the unlawful executions and torture committed against Jews deported to concentration camps… from Kosice."

"This new evidence strengthens the already very strong case against Csatary and reinforces our insistence that he be held accountable for his crimes," Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the BBC. "The passage of time in no way diminishes his guilt and old age should not afford protection for Holocaust perpetrators."

Zuroff presented prosecutors with evidence that Csatary played a key role in the deportation of at least 300 Jews from Kosice; they were all murdered in the summer of 1941. Csatary is one of many charged with participating in the Holocaust, which saw the murder of thousands of innocent people.