Australia, Hungary and Lithuania are failing to investigate and prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals largely due to a lack of political will, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Thursday.
The Nazi-hunting group said the same holds true for Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine, adding all countries in question face no legal obstacles in bringing suspects to justice.
The findings were published in the center's annual report, which graded the investigation and prosecution efforts of countries around the world between April 2007 and March 2008.
"In analyzing the results presented in this report, the critical importance of political will in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice is increasingly evident," wrote Efraim Zuroff, the center's chief Nazi hunter.
However, he lauded the success achieved by U.S. prosecution agencies, saying they should serve as a catalyst for governments around the world.
Australia was given the worst possible mark — an "F-2"_ for its continued failure to extradite Nazi collaborator Charles Zentai, an Australian citizen accused of killing a Jewish teenager in Hungary during World War II.
The report said Australia admitted at least several hundred Nazi war criminals and collaborators but has failed to take successful legal action against a single one.
In August, an Australian judge found that Zentai's case and circumstances met the requirements of the Australian Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty between Australia and the Republic of Hungary. Lawyers for Zentai said at the time they would appeal the ruling.
Hungary, also in the "F-2" category, was reprimanded for failing to prosecute former gendarmerie officer Sandor Kepiro, accused by the Wiesenthal Center of playing an active role in the "mass murder of at least hundreds of civilians" in Novi Sad, Serbia, on Jan. 23, 1942.
In October, Hungarian prosecutors investigating Kepiro said they were considering expanding their probe to Serbia and were awaiting access to archival documents there which could shed new light on the 1942 events.
In a separate development in September, Serbian prosecutors lodged a request for investigation against Kepiro with the Belgrade war crimes court, the first step toward a possible indictment and trial.
Lithuania, meanwhile, got a failing grade for its refusal to jail Algimantas Dailide, convicted in 2006 of helping round up Jews for Nazis as an officer in the Vilnius security police. He was sentenced to five years in jail, but the judge ruled he was too frail to serve the sentence. The center said that reflected Lithuania's resistance to acknowledging "the extensive scope of local complicity in the crimes of the Holocaust."
The report also criticized Norway, Sweden and Syria, saying all three countries refuse in principle to investigate and prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal or ideological restrictions.
The report noted that Austria, which got a "C" for its efforts, has not convicted anyone for crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust for more than three decades.
It also said Austrian authorities have refused the center's request to allow a foreign medical expert to examine Milivoj Asner, a wartime Croatian police chief living in Carinthia and suspected of an active role in deporting hundreds of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies to their deaths. Authorities have said Asner suffers from dementia.
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Source: AP News