By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Budapest, Hungary
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Sandor Kepiro, a former Hungarian police officer who was recently acquitted of Holocaust-era war crimes charges, has died at the age of 97, his family and lawyer said Saturday, September 3.
Kepiro was on the most wanted list of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center for his alleged involvement in the killing of 36 Jews and Serbs in the Serbian city of Novi Sad in 1942.
However on July 18, a court in Budapest declared him “not-guilty” citing “a lack of evidence.” His lawyer appealed the ruling saying it did not go far enough, while prosecutors also appealed, backed by outraged Simon Wiesenthal and Serbian officials.
Hungarian forces shot and killed at least 1,200 Jews, Serbs and Roma, also known as Gypsies, within just three days, near the Danube river in Novi Sad, historians say.
In total some 3,000 people were killed by Hungarians in that cold January, according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia.
NOVI SAD MASSACRE
The bloodshed became known as “the massacre of Novi Sad”, named after the city where the killings took place.
Kepiro’s lawyer Zsolt Zetenyi said doctors did not provide a cause of his client’s death. But in a statement he claimed the trial “significantly contributed” to the worsening of his health.
During the trial, Kepiro could already be seen in a wheelchair, connected to an infusion device and with half closed eyes, surrounded by female helpers.
However his acquittal was viewed as controversial by trial observers. The prosecution called the acquittal by a panel of three judges “unfounded.”
They point out that Kepiro was already sentenced in the 1940s over his alleged involvement in deadly raids and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He was released by Hungary’s fascist government.
Additionally, Kepiro never really denied that he was involved in rounding up people. “No I don’t regret it, it was my obligation,”he told a reporter earlier. Yet, when the extend of the trial became clear he later said about those who died: “I am not guilty, and I have always lived a decent life.”
Since 1996 Kepiro lived in Budapest after hiding for decades in Argentina, a favorite destination for Nazi-suspects. Hungary came in action when the Wiesenthal Center reported in 2006 that he lived in an apartment in Budapest. Opposite a synagogue.
Throughout the trial, Simon Wiesenthal Director Efraim Zuroff made clear he has no doubts that Kepiro killed many people. He urged judges and others to overlook the old age related health problems of Kepiro at the time.
“Time does not diminish the guilt of the killers and old age should not protect those who committed such heinous crimes,” he said. On Saturday, however, Kepiro’s time had run out.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust. With at least 100,000 people Hungary still boosts one of Eastern Europe’s largest Jewish communities outside Russia.
I was 12 when Feri, the shop assistant in our local grocers Papp in then Sólyom utca, now Bihari János utca in Budapest came home on leave from military service and told stories of unbelievable cruelties he witnessed in Ujvidék. The husband of my mother’s best friend Jenő Beck lead the military victory parade in Budapest of the troops returning from their Serbian campaign.
Those crimes provoked the Serbians into revenge killing and the ethnic cleansing of at least 40,000 Hungarians when the table was turned in 1944.
The horrible tortured to death of at least 40,000 Hungarians, including jews and gypsies, Serbs, Croatians, Bosnians etc. must weighed heavily on the conscience of this man.
Remarkable that the Judge – for whom I would grant a “dr. Roland Freisler Award” – acquitted him when even Horthy’s court convicted Grassy, Feketehalmy-Czeydner and Zöldy for those crimes…..
So are the jews happy now that they have driven an innocent man to his grave?
Never Forgive! Never Forget!
Rest in peace.
Dear White Wolf,
I am not sure who you mean with “The Jews”. All we know is that he was found guilty on two occasions already, including in the 1940s before he was acquitted by Hungary’s fascist government at the time. I am not sure whether the Hungarian prosecutors and the Serbian officials concerned about his recent aqcuittal have a Jewish background. I also doubt whether they drove him to the grave. He appeared very ill already during the most recent trial. I feel sorry however for the Jewish girl on that picture shown to reporters who was executed by Hungarian forces. She was never able to celebrate her 97th birthday. Should we now say are “The Hungarians”
happy that they drove her to the grave while Hungary was a close ally of Nazi
Germany? You seem to have selective, white wolfish anger. And Enteo, I have my doubts whether he rests in peace. Best regards, Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
So many anti-Semites on the internet, it is pretty pathetic. White wolf and enteo, I’m guessing you guys are just at the bottom of the barrel. Not too smart, access online, and anonymous. Wish humans could have evolved just a bit more intelligence.