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Australia high court refuses to deport suspected Nazi war criminal

The High Court of Australia [official website] on Wednesday rejected a request [order] by the nation of Hungary to extradite a Nazi war crimes suspect. The case concerned a man named Charles Zentai [The Australian backgrounder], an Australian citizen and Hungarian native who was accused, along with two other Hungarian soldiers, of beating a Jewish teenager in Hungary to death in 1944 for not wearing a yellow Star of David identifying himself as a Jew. The high court ruled in a 5-1 decision that Zentai could not be extradited because "war crime" did not exist as a legal offense [CNN report] in Hungary in 1944. In its ruling, the high court upheld a 2010 Australian lower court decision, Zentai v. Honourable Brendan O'Connor [text; JURIST report], in which the court also declined to deport Zentai to Hungary. Zentai is listed as one of the 10 most wanted Nazi war criminals by the Simon Weisenthal Center [official website], a Jewish human rights organization.

The deportation of alleged Nazi collaborators has been a contentious legal issue recently. Earlier this month Slovakian authorities filed charges against a 97-year-old Hungarian man arrested [JURIST reports] in Budapest in July on allegations of abusing and helping deport thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. In May a US immigration court ordered the deportation of former SS guard Anton Geiser [JURIST report] to Austria for serving as an armed guard at the Sachsenhausen and the Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. In January German prosecutors filed a motion [JURIST report] to imprison Klaas Faber, a Dutch native who fled to Germany after being convicted in the Netherlands in 1947 of Nazi war crimes.

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