Zentai is expected to make an appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court, and has indicated if he is unsuccessful there, he will take the matter to the High Court. Zentai’s son Ernie Steiner told reporters outside the court the family still had several options.”It’s not over by a long shot because we also have rights of appeal to the attorney general and to the minister for home affairs,” he said. Zentai, who migrated to Australia after the war, was living quietly in the western Australian city of Perth before the Hungarian government began extradition proceedings in March 2005. If he is sent back to Hungary, Zentai would be the first Australian citizen to face war crimes charges.
His lawyers argued at the time that Australia’s treaty with Hungary included a 1945 decree that meant the offence Zentai was accused of was not an offence when the murder was committed in 1944.
Zentai’s lawyer, Grant Donaldson, SC, told the Federal Court yesterday that Ms Lane’s decision should be reviewed. “This offence simply was not an offence at that time,” Mr Donaldson said. Lawyer Denis Barich said his client, who supported himself with walking stick at the hearing, has a heart condition and is being treated by two specialists.
Zentai, who has taken a lie detector test the results of which he says show his innocence, said he was under “tremendous pressure, physically and emotionally”. The polygraph showed no deception in Zentai’s answer, Willson said, adding the test is 97 percent accurate.
“I will say with 97 percent certainty that he was telling the truth,” Willson told the AP. “But my gut feeling after speaking to him and spending quite a few hours with him and him being very, very candid on every single question that I asked, I had no doubt at all in my mind.”
Mr Zentai’s son Ernie Steiner said his father had spent over $100,000 fighting the extradition.