Prosecutors in Budapest indicted Laszlo Csatary for torturing Jews and deporting them to their deaths during World War II.
Csatary, 98, was charged Tuesday with beating and whipping Jews as the police commander of the Kassa internment camp before sending about 12,000 in 1944 to be murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz and other death camps, the Hungarian news agency MTI reported.
According to Jerusalem’s Wiesenthal Center, Csatary had a key role in the deportation of 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.
Csatary, who has denied the charges, was placed under house arrest in July after the Simon Wiesenthal Center tipped off The Sun, a British paper, to the fact that Csatary was living in Hungary.
A Czechoslovak court sentenced Csatary to death in absentia in 1948 for war crimes. At the time, Csatary had already fled to Canada, which stripped him of his Canadian citizenship in 1997 and forced him to return to his native Hungary.
The director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement that Csatary’s indictment was “an important reminder that justice for the victims of the Holocaust can still be achieved.”
Csatary failed to appear for a deposition in Budapest on June 4 in connection with a separate legal case — a class-action suit by Holocaust survivors living in the U.S. for compensation from the Hungarian national railroad. He cited health reasons.
The Hungarian Ministry of National Development issued a statement saying that the plaintiffs’ attorney, Charles Fax, said he was “satisfied with the fairness of the [Hungarian judicial] procedure and expressed thanks to the Court for having assisted in obtaining the information requested by the plaintiff.”
But Fax, an attorney for the Maryland-based Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver law firm, denied he made the statement and demanded on Tuesday that it be retracted from the ministry’s website.