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Hungarian police today arrested Laszlo Csatary, the “most wanted” surviving Nazi war criminal, for his role in organising the deportation of 15,700 Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz.The Hungarian authorities have come under sustained international pressure to prosecute the 97-year old man who has been under investigation and surveillance for 10 months.
He is being held in custody and “has been charged with committing war crimes”.
Csatary tops the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s most-wanted list of the Nazi war criminals and was last weekend discovered to have been living peacefully in Budapest for 17 years.
The alleged war criminal was found last weekend in rented flat, under his own name, in a smart area of Hungary ‘s capital after fleeing Canada when he was unmasked by war crimes investigators in 1995.
Csatary fled Europe after the war after being sentenced to death “in absentia” in 1948 by a Czechoslovakian court for crimes committed while he was police chief from 1941 in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary.
While in the town, known as Kassa in Hungarian and Kaschau in German, he was renowned for his brutality, beating women with a whip he carried on his belt and forcing them to dig holes with their bare hands.
During the war, he organised deportations of thousands of Jews to death camps in Nazi occupied Eastern Europe and is accused of complicity in the killing of at least 16,000 people.
Csatary has officially been under investigation by the Hungarian authorities since 11 September 2011 and is locally reported as having been under police surveillance since April.
But prosecutors have warned that bringing him to trial might take time.
“The investigation has to explore an event remote in both time and place – it took place 68 years ago in an area that now falls under the jurisdiction of another country – which raises several investigative and legal problems,” said a statement.
“A significant part of the investigation is dedicated to finding those living victims who might speak directly about events.”
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