97-year-old Hungarian War Crimes Suspect Acquitted
Hungarian Nazi war criminal suspect Sandor Kepiro was acquitted on Monday by a tribunal in Budapest of the accusation of having ordered the rounding and the execution of over 30 Jews and Serbs in Novi Sad, Serbia, in 1942.
Kepiro insisted he never killed anyone, and was acquitted in spite of the demand of the prosecution to have him sentenced to prison.
Many people in the court clapped their hands and cheered at hearing the verdict of the former Hungarian captain, who is now 97 years old, and was on top of Wiesenthal Center list of war criminals.
The motivation of the sentence read by Judge Bela Varga will be made public in two days, and is believed to be related to the frailty of the old man accused.
A notorious massacre happened in Novi Sad in 1942, when the Hungarian troops killed 1,200 Jews, Serbs and Roma civilians in three days.
Kepiro was accused of being directly responsible for the death of 36 Jews and Serbs, 30 of which were rounded as his orders and shot.
He was accused on these crimes in Hungary in 1944, but the accusation was overlooked by the fascist government in power at the time.
Until 1996, Sandor Kepiro lived in Argentina, and in 2006 he became the first accused of war crimes by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Kepiro said he refused to use firearms on civilians, as he had been ordered to, and furthermore that he saved the lives of the people who were about to be killed by a corporal.
The sentence was criticized by the leaders of Simon Wiesenthal Center, who consider it is an insult to the victims of the Novi Sad massacre.
Dr. Ephraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Nazi hunter who exposed Kepiro’s presence in Budapest in 2006, said the center will do everything in its power to have the verdict reversed and to see Kepiro end his life in prison.11