5 March 1915|
|Died||10 August 2013
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Known for||Alleged war crimes|
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László Csatáry (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːsloː ˈtʃɒtaːri]; 5 March 1915 – 10 August 2013) was a Hungarian citizen and an alleged Nazi war criminal, convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in 1948 by a Czechoslovak court. In 2012, his name was added to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals.
Csatáry was born in Mány in 1915. In 1944 he was the Royal Hungarian Police assistant to the commander in the city of Kassa in Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia). He was accused of organizing the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz. He is also accused of having inhumanely exercised his authority in a forced labour camp. He is also accused of brutalizing the inhabitants of the city. He was convicted in absentia for war crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and sentenced to death. He fled to Canada in 1949 claiming to be a Yugoslav national and settled in Montreal where he became an art dealer. He became a citizen in 1955. In 1997, his Canadian citizenship was revoked by the federal Cabinet for lying on his citizenship application. He left the country two months later but was never charged with war crimes in Canada. An extensive criminal reference check was done on him with no evidence of war crimes there.
In 2012, Csatáry was located in Budapest, Hungary, based on a tip received by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in September 2011. His address was exposed by reporters from The Sun in July 2012. He was reportedly taken into custody on 18 July 2012 by the Hungarian authorities for questioning. On 30 July 2012, Slovak Justice Minister Tomáš Borec announced that Slovakia was ready to prosecute against Csatáry and asked Hungary to extradite him.
A file that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had prepared on Csatáry implicated him in the deportation of 300 people from Kassa in 1941. In August 2012 the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office dropped these charges, saying Csatáry was not in Kassa at the time and lacked the rank to organize the transports. In January 2013 it was reported that Slovak police had found a witness to corroborate other charges relating to deportations of 15,700 Jews from Kassa from May 1944.
Czechoslovakia had abolished the death penalty in 1990. Accordingly, on 28 March 2013, Slovak County Court in Košice changed the 1948 verdict in Csatáry's case from the death penalty to life imprisonment in order to make it executable.
On 18 June 2013, Hungarian prosecutors charged Csatáry with war crimes, saying he had abused Jews and helped to deport Jews to Auschwitz in World War II. A spokesperson for the Budapest Chief Prosecutor's Office said, "He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, (thus) committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice." His trial could start within three months. The Budapest higher court suspended his case on 8 July 2013, however, because "Csatáry had already been sentenced for the crimes included in the proceedings, in former Czechoslovakia in 1948". The court also added that it is necessary to examine how the 1948 death sentence could be applied to Hungarian legal practice.
In 2014, a book was published by Sándor Verbovszki titled Kassa Árnyékában: A Csatáry-ügy a dokumentumok tükrében (English: "In the Shadow of Košice: The Csatáry Case In the Light of Documents"). The book states, based on records in the National Archives of Hungary, that Csatáry was stationed elsewhere when the crimes occurred, and thus should be exonerated of war crimes.
Yishayahu Schachar, Jewish survivor who encountered Csatáry, said:
László Karsai, a Hungarian Holocaust historian and the son of a Holocaust survivor, said:
Efraim Zuroff, director of the The Simon Wiesenthal Center stated that he was "deeply disappointed" that Csatáry had died before facing trial.
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