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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 12:44 UK

Alleged Nazi 'can be extradited'

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Charles Zentai arriving at court and his son Ernie Steiner

An Australian court has ruled that an 86-year-old man can be extradited to Hungary for allegedly committing war crimes in Hungary during WWII.

Charles Zentai is accused of beating to death a Jewish teenager in Budapest in 1944 when he was serving in the Hungarian army.

He is one of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre's top targets.

Mr Zentai, who emigrated to Australia in the 1950s, has denied the allegations against him.

If he is sent back to Europe, he would be the first Australian to be extradited for alleged war crimes, the AFP news agency reports.

Most wanted

Hungary accuses Mr Zentai of beating 18-year-old Peter Balazs to death at an army barracks in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, for failing to wear a yellow star identifying him as a Jew.

Mr Zentai is one of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's top 10 most wanted Nazi criminals, who "participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944", the centre says.

Mr Zentai's lawyers say they will appeal the decision by a Perth magistrates' court to allow him to be deported.

The magistrate initially remanded Mr Zentai in custody, but he was later granted a A$50,000 ($43,000; 23,000) bail by a federal judge, on condition that he surrendered his passport.

Mr Zentai's son, Ernie Steiner, said they would do everything they could to overturn the ruling.

"We do have other avenues to prove his innocence through submissions to the Minister for Home Affairs and also the attorney general. But we will use the legal system, every opportunity that's available to him. So, we will appeal the decision, try and get a review on the decision and we'll take it from there and see how it goes."

If Mr Zentai's appeal against the deportation ruling fails, the final decision on whether to send him back to Hungary will fall to the Australian government.




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