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Alleged Nazi war criminal seeks damages from Australia for false imprisonment

An alleged Nazi war criminal has filed a writ to sue the Australian government for wrongful imprisonment after being jailed on a charge of killing an 18-year-old Jewish man in Hungary in 1944. Charles Zentai [The Australian backgrounder], a 91-year-old former Nazi and resident of Perth, was imprisoned for almost two months in 2009 for the war crime, but the High Court of Australia [official website] in August refused to extradite him to Hungary [JURIST report]. Upon considering whether the Australian government could transfer the former Nazi back to Hungary in light of his status as a war crimes suspect, the court upheld a lower court ruling [JURIST report] that Zentai could not be extradited under an offense that did not exist under Hungarian law in 1944. Zentai has not yet specified the amount of damages he is seeking [Jerusalem Post report], and he remains one of the 10 most wanted Nazi war criminals by the Simon Weisenthal Center [advocacy website], a Jewish Human Rights organization.

The deportation of alleged Nazi collaborators has recently become a contentious legal issue around the world. Last month police in Slovakia announced [JURIST report] their plan to launch an investigation of a 97-year-old Hungarian man suspected of abusing and transporting Jews to Auschwitz [JURIST news archive] during the Holocaust. In July Slovakian authorities announced that they would seek extradition [JURIST report] of the same man, Laszlo Csatary, who was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Czechoslovakia in 1948. The country, however, abolished the death penalty before dividing into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Also in July Hungarian prosecutors charged Csatary [JURIST report] with the "unlawful torture of human beings," a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. In January German prosecutors filed a motion [JURIST report] to jail Klaas Faber, a Dutch native who fled to Germany after being convicted in the Netherlands in 1947 of Nazi war crimes. Last year Germany reopened investigations into several former Nazi death camp guards, which stemmed from the conviction of John Demjanjuk [JURIST reports], a former guard at a camp in Poland who was deported to Germany to stand trial for his alleged Nazi crimes. Last September, alleged Nazi Sandor Kepiro died while he awaited an appeal [JURIST report] on his acquittal on war crimes charges.

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