Just one month after escaping a court ruling in Slovakia to finalise a life sentence for World War II war crimes, Laszlo Csatary died in Hungary on Saturday at the age of 98.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Csatary played a key role in the deportation of more than 15,000 Slovak Jews to the extermination camp in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in spring 1944. During World War Two, Csatary headed the Hungarian police in the Kosice Jewish ghetto. Slovakia also suspected Csatary of other crimes.
In 1948, Csatary was found guilty in absentia by Czechoslovak courts and sentenced to death. After Slovakia abolished the death sentence in 1998, the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in January 2013. In April this year, Csatary appealed against that sentence to the Slovak Supreme Court. In addition to the 1948 charges, Csatary also faced new charges in Slovakia for crimes committed in Kosice.
At the end of the war, Csatary escaped from Hungary and settled down in Canada, which granted citizenship to him. In October 1997 he left Canada to avoid the impending expulsion over having acquired Canadian citizenship based on false information. In July 2012, he was uncovered living in Budapest under a false name. He was immediately put on house arrest.
Slovakia was demanding his extradition from Hungary, but both countries had charges pending against him. These will now most likely be concluded swiftly in the wake of his death. Csatary himself claimed innocence, but some survivors of the atrocities that took place gave key testimonies against him. Many would like to think he will not rest in peace.