Hungarian WWII war crime suspect stands trial

One of the last remaining Nazi war-crime suspects will soon learn his fate in a Hungarian court. Sandor Kepiro, 97, is charged with the massacre killing civilian hostages in Serbia.

He was discovered living in Budapest in 2006, and is one of the few left to stand trial for Holocaust crimes. In 2008, the Simon Wiesenthal Center put Kepiro among the ten most-wanted Nazi crime suspects.

Kepiro is charged with participating in the Novi Sad massacre, the notorious raid by Hungarian troops in occupied Serbia in 1942, which ended with the killing of an estimated 4,000 civilians, mostly Serbs and Jews. Prosecutors say Kepiro is directly responsible for 36 of those deaths.

He was already tried for the same crime in 1944 along with 14 other Hungarian officers. While the court found him guilty, he was set free by a new right-wing government, after it took power in a coup-d’etat.

As Kepiro fled Hungary and was hiding in Latin America, a second trial sentenced him in absentia to 14 years in prison, which was four years longer than the first sentence.

Defense in the current trial insists that Kepiro cannot be tried again for a crime he was already tried for in the past. The trial has also been proceeding slowly due to the defendant’s poor health and apparent senility.

Prosecution said it wanted a sentence similar to that given to John Demjanjuk, former guard at the Nazi death camp Sobibor, who was found guilty of aiding in killing of prisoners by a German court and sentenced to a five-year prison term.

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