The French foreign ministry joined Nazi hunters and Jewish community groups in calling on Hungarian prosecutors to arrest Laszlo Csatary (97) for his role in the deportation of 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.
“We believe that Nazi criminals, wherever they are, must answer for their acts before justice,” a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said.
Csatary, who tops the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s most-wanted list of Nazi war criminals, was discovered living in Budapest under his own name.
An art dealer in Montreal before moving to Hungary, Csatary had also lived in Toronto. He left Canada when he was found by investigators in 1995.
Csatary fled Europe after being sentenced to death in absentia in 1948 by a Czech court. He was renowned for his brutality and was said to have beaten women with a whip and forced them to dig holes with their hands.
During the war, he deported thousands of Jews to death camps and is accused of complicity in the killing of at least 16,000 people.
Sources said that the investigation was taking a long time because the crimes “took place 68 years ago in an area that now falls under the jurisdiction of another country”.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, handed more evidence to Hungarian prosecutors last week, highlighting Csatary’s key role in the deportation of about 300 Jews. Almost all were murdered.