Second World War police captain on trial over Nazi massacres in Serbia

A Hungarian man aged 97 proclaimed his innocence yesterday as his war crimes trial began in Budapest for the killings of civilians in Serbia in 1942.

Sandor Kepiro, a former police captain, is charged with taking part in raids by Hungarian forces in the northern Serbian town of Novi Sad, where 1,200 civilians were killed.

According to court papers, unidentified members of a patrol under Mr Kepiro's command killed four people during a raid on 23 January 1942. Mr Kepiro is also suspected of being involved in the deaths of around 30 others who were executed on the banks of the Danube.

Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, and representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre attended the start of the trial. "This is a clear example that even after 70 years of a crime being committed... a perpetrator can be brought to justice," Mr Vukcevic said.

Mr Kepiro, who returned to Budapest in 1996 after living for decades in Argentina, acknowledged he participated in the raids but denied responsibility for the killings.

In 1941, after the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia, Hungarian forces entered northern Serbia, which had been part of Hungary until the First World War. In early 1942, those Hungarian forces carried out raids to counter partisan attacks.