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December 11, 2008



Hungary
, Lithuania, Australia and Croatia Among Countries Given Failing Grades in Wiesenthal Center 2008 Annual Report on Worldwide Investigation
and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals

Jerusalem - The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the full text of its seventh Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2007 until March 31, 2008 and awarded grades ranging from A (highest) to F to evaluate the efforts and results achieved by more than three dozen countries which were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted Holocaust perpetrators after World War II.

Among the report’s highlights are the following important developments:

1. For the first time ever, Hungary, which in 2005 was the country which received the best grade in Europe [B], was given a failing grade [F-2] this year, due to its failure to prosecute former gendarmerie officer Dr. Sandor Kepiro, who played an active role in the mass murder of at least hundreds of civilians in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia on January 23, 1942.

2. For the second consecutive year, Lithuania which had previously received relatively good marks, was given a failing grade [F-2] for its refusal to implement the jail sentence meted out to Algimantas Dailide who was convicted in Vilnius in March 2006 for his role in the persecution of Jews and Poles.

3. For the second consecutive year, Australia was given the worst grade [F-2] for its continued failure to extradite suspected Nazi collaborator Charles Zentai who is wanted for Holocaust crimes in his native Hungary.

4. For the second consecutive year, Croatia was given the worst grade [F-2] for its continued failure to bring to justice Ivo Rojnica, the former Ustasha governor of Dubrovnik, who died in Buenos Aires in late November 2007 unprosecuted for his crimes.

5. A relatively steep decrease in the number of convictions during the past year was at least partially offset by an increase in the number of new indictments filed.

6. The continued and consistent success of the American “Office of Special Investigations” to denaturalize and deport Nazi war criminals from the United States.

Zuroff noted that the statistics in the report clearly show that a significant measure of justice can still be achieved against Nazi war criminals. “Since January 2001, seventy-six convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least fifty-two new indictments have been filed, and dozens of new investigations have been initiated. Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise, and it is clear that numerous cases of such criminals will continue to come to trial during the coming years. While it is generally assumed that it is the age of the suspects that is the biggest obstacle to prosecution, in many cases it is the lack of political will, more than anything else, that has hindered the efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, along with the mistaken notion that it was impossible at this point to locate, identify, and convict these criminals. The success achieved by dedicated prosecution agencies, and especially by the US Office of Special Investigations, should be a catalyst for governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be obtained.”

Zuroff explained that the Report’s purpose was to focus public attention on the issue and thereby “encourage all the governments involved to maximize their efforts to ensure that as many as possible of the unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. In that respect, we seek to highlight both the positive results achieved by countries like the United States and Italy, as well as the abject failures of countries like Austria, Hungary, Lithuania and others which have failed to bring any of them to justice during the period under review, as well as Sweden and Norway which in principle refuse to investigate, let alone prosecute (due to a statue of limitations), and others who have either chosen to ignore the issue (Syria) or which have consistently failed to deal with it effectively primarily due to a lack of the requisite political will.”

Read full report here...