A Hungarian lawyer has urged authorities to charge Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff with making “false statements” against an alleged war criminal.
Attorney Futo Barnabas said Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, should be indicted for leveling false allegations against Laszlo Csatary, whom police arrested last month. Zuroff gave testimonies to Budapest prosecutors that Csatary had organized deportations of Hungarian Jews from Kosice in 1941 and 1944.
Prosecutors dismissed the 1941 charges last week as “unsubstantiated” but are still investigating those pertaining to 1944.
Citing the dismissal, Barnabas told the conservative newspaper Magyar Nemzet that “there are valid grounds to charge Zuroff with deliberately making a false accusation.” The offense, which is meant to discourage libelous complaints, carries a five-year prison sentence, according to Barnabas.
Contacted by JTA, Barnabas said in German that he would only agree to be interviewed in Hungarian.
A spokeswoman for the Budapest prosecutor’s office, Bettina Bagoly, is quoted as telling the Hungarian paper that she was not aware of any pending investigation against Zuroff.
In 1944, Csatary was a police officer in Kassa, now Kosice in Slovakia. He is accused of organizing transports of at least 15,000 Jews to Ukraine.
Csatary fled to Canada in 1949 after a Czechoslovakian court sentenced him in absentia to death for war crimes. He returned to Budapest 15 years ago, after Ottawa annulled his Canadian citizenship.
Based on Zuroff’s research, The Sun newspaper of London reported on Csatary’s whereabouts in July. Budapest’s chief prosecutor said on July 17 that the research “contains no new evidence.” Csatary was nonetheless placed under house arrest the next day.
Last year, a Budapest court acquitted Zuroff of libel charges. Sandor Kepiro, then a suspected war criminal, sued Zuroff for voicing the suspicions. Kepiro was acquitted last year.