Priest cautions Minister on Zentai case

A Perth parish priest has told Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison of his hope that the Federal Government will "not be influenced by political persuasion" in its pursuit of the case of 83 year old alleged war criminal Charles Zentai, who was arrested in Perth on Friday.

Fr John Flynn, a Pallotine, wrote a highly positive character reference for Mr Zentai after the Australian Government decided to act upon Hungary's application for Mr Zentai's extradition to face charges of murdering a young Jewish Hungarian civilian in 1944.

In the letter written to the Minister on Saturday, Fr Flynn said: "I am aware that the final decision about extradition lies with you and I am confident that in making this decision, which lies in the future somewhat after the now necessary legal processes are completed, you will not be influenced by political persuasion, but rather by justice and truth, compassion and genuine humanitarianism."

Minister Ellison told the ABC's 7:30 Report last night: My decision to agree to the request for extradition is not a judgment in any way on the case against Mr Zentai, and can I stress that Mr Zentai is entitled as any other Australian as to a presumption of innocence.

In assessing Zentai's character, Fr Flynn wrote: "Charlie is a parishioner I know quite well. I can tell you that he is a first class Catholic and is filled with a truly Christian spirit. He is one of the kindest, gentlest persons one would wish to meet, who would not harm a fly."

Mr Zentai has been granted bail. His lawyer told the ABC that he would be denying the charges, stressing that there are doubts about the authenticity of documents and witness statements.

Fr John B. Flynn SAC: Letter to Hon Chris Ellison, MInister for Customs and Justice
Zentai faces extradition over war crime (ABC TV 7:30 Report 11/7/05)

Australia okays extradition of alleged Nazi war criminal (Jerusalem Post 11/7/05)
Suspect in murder of Jewish teen during WWII arrested after 61 years (Haaretz.com 10/7/05)
Extradition of war crime accused could take 'at least a year' (The Australian 11/7/05)
60 years on, Zentai arrested (The Australian 9/7/05)
Australia Arrests Suspected Hungarian War Criminal, Jewish Groups Pleased (BosNewsLife 9/7/05)

12 Jul 2005