A 97-year-old Hungarian, who was once the world’s most wanted Nazi war crimes suspect, went free from court yesterday after being cleared of ordering the execution of over 30 Jews and Serbs in 1942.
The prosecution had demanded at least a prison sentence for Sandor Kepiro, who until his arrest topped the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of most wanted Nazi criminals.
Whether the prosecution will now appeal yesterday’s decision was yet unknown.
The defence had insisted there was no tangible evidence that Mr Kepiro had carried out war crimes, while the prosecution’s case rested heavily on old testimonies and verdicts from previous trials in the 1940s. “There are cases where there is no access to direct evidence as the direct witnesses are no longer alive,” prosecutor Zsolt Falvai acknowledged in a last statement yesterday.
“We are obliged to base our case on written proof, documents, even if these are old testimonies,” he added.
During the trial several experts cast doubts on the authenticity of these documents, many of which were incomplete or contained translation mistakes.
In addition, the defence claimed that testimonies made in front of communist courts could have been coerced.