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László Csizsik-Csatáry

(1915 - 2013)

László Csizsik-Csatáry was an alleged Nazi war criminal who was convicted to death in absentia by Czechoslovakia in 1949.

Csatary (born March 4, 1915, died August 12, 2013) was born in Mány, Hungary. In 1944, he became the Royal Hungarian Police commander in the city of Kassa in Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia). In charge of a Jewish ghetto, he helped organize the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz. He is also accused of having inhumanely exercised his authority in a forced labour camp and to have brutalized the inhabitants of the city.

He was convicted in absentia for war crimes by Czechoslovakia in 1949 and sentenced to death. That year, he fled to Canada claiming to be a Yugoslav national and settled in Montreal where he became an art dealer. He became a citizen in 1955.

 In 1997, the Canadian federal Cabinet revoked his citizenship for having lied on his application and he fled the country two months later.

In September 2011, on a tip received by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Csatary was located in Budapest, Hungary and his address was exposed by reporters in July 2012. He was then added to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals.

Csataly was reportedly taken into custody on July 18, 2012, by the Hungarian authorities and on July 30 Slovak Justice Minister Tomáš Borec told reporters that Slovakia wanted Csatáry to be tried in their country. A file prepared by the Simon Wiesenthal Center implicated Csatáry in the deportation of 300 people from Kassa in 1941.

In August 2012, the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office dropped those 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.

On March 28, 2013, the Slovak County Court in Košice changed the 1948 death penalty verdict in Csatáry's case to a life sentence. The sentence was changed to be in line with modern Slovak law as Czechoslovakia abolished the death penalty in 1990, three years before its division into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

In June 2013, Hungarian prosecutors charged Csatáry with war crimes, saying he had helped to deport Jews to Auschwitz in World War II. "He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice," said Bettina Bagoly, a spokeswoman for the Budapest Chief Prosecutor's Office. "With his actions, Laszlo Csatary ... deliberately provided help to the unlawful executions and torture committed against Jews deported to concentration camps ... from Kosice."

While awaiting his trial, Csatáry died on August 12, 2013, in an Hungarian hospital after suffering from a number of medical problems. The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was "deeply disappointed" by the news of his death. "It is a shame that Csatary, a convicted ... and totally unrepentant Holocaust perpetrator who was finally indicted in his homeland for his crimes, ultimately eluded justice and punishment at the very last minute,.'

Sources: Wikipedia; JTA (March 29, 2013); Reuters (June 18, 2013); BBC News (August 12, 2013)