The world’s most wanted Nazi war criminal has been arrested in Hungary.Prosecutors in the country said Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, was arrested in Budapest and charged with war crimes early on Wednesday.
Accused of complicity in sending 15,700 Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz in 1944 while serving as a police officer in the then-Slovakian city of Kosice, Csizsik-Csatary was tracked down by Nazi-hunters from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
After escaping a war crimes sentence in 1948, Csizsik-Csatary moved to Canada and was only tracked down again in 1997.
Canadian authorities decided to deport him but before he was deported, he escaped, and his location has remained unknown for the past 15 years.
On Sunday, after a tip-off from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Israel director, Dr Ephraim Zuroff, journalists from the Sun newspaper confronted Csizsik-Csatary at his home where he has apparently been living openly, taking leisurely strolls in the city centre.
Last September Dr Zuroff handed over a large file of evidence to the Hungarian authorities about Csizsik-Csatary. But when the government took no action, Csizsik-Csatary was made number one on the centre’s “Most Wanted Nazi War Criminal” list. Additionally, Dr Zuroff provided new material, including his participation in 1941 of transporting approximately 300 Jews from Kosice to Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, where it is believed almost all were murdered.
On Monday, members of the European Union of Jewish Students demonstrated outside Csizsik-Csatary’s home.
By coincidence the Hungarian president, Janos Ader, was in Jerusalem and met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Before the meeting Dr Zuroff wrote an open letter to Mr Ader pressing him to support the prosecution of Csizsik-Csatary. It may well have been such pressure that led to the 97-year-old’s arrest this week.