Hungarian prosecutors on Monday charged long-time Nazi suspect, Sandor Kepiro, with war crimes committed during the 1942 Novi Sad massacre in Serbia. Kepiro was convicted both in 1944 and 1946 and sentenced to 10 years for involvement in the raids. He was, however, released, and promptly fled to Argentina. The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) [advocacy website], a Jewish human rights organization committed to finding and prosecuting Holocaust war criminals, is responsible for finding the former Hungarian military officer in 2006 helping bring him into the custody of Budapest officials. SWC Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, expressed the importance [press release] of convicting their top-listed Nazi criminal and its impact on Hungarian society:
It is they [the families of victims] who so deserve that justice finally be achieved in this case, so that they can finally achieve a measure of closure, even if it is many years after the crimes.Kepiro has denied all charges. His lawyers have expressed confidence that the Hungarian prosecutors will not produce sufficient documentation to uphold his conviction.
The indictment of Kepiro also sends a powerful message that the passage of time does not diminish the guilt of the killers and that old age should not protect those who committed such heinous crimes. ... [W]e finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the major goals of SWC is to prosecute Nazi criminal suspects before they die. Kepiro, 97, is at the top of the list for oldest Nazi criminal suspects that have been convicted for war crimes. In November, Nazi guard Samuel Kunz [Trial Watch profile], 89, passed away [JURIST report] in his home before he could be brought to trial. He was accused of aiding in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people at the Belzec concentration camp [HRP backgrounder]. In November, alleged Nazi death camp prison guard John Demjanjuk, 90, [TIME profile; JURIST news archive] accused the German judges [JURIST report] conducting his trial of bias [text] after the they rejected a number of 23 defense petitions to discontinue his trial. His family and physician argued that Demjanjuk, was too frail and in too much pain to make it through the trial.