Csatary was found in a two-bedroom apartment in Budapest, Hungary  (Andrew Styczynski/ The Sun)
Csatary was found in a two-bedroom apartment in Budapest, Hungary (Andrew Styczynski/ The Sun)

Hungarian authorities have arrested a 97-year-old suspected Nazi war criminal accused of assisting in the murders of nearly 16,000 Jews in Auschwitz.

Laszlo Csatary is the most wanted surviving suspect on the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center's list. He has been charged with "unlawful torture of human beings," a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He was arrested after being and under investigation and surveillance for 10 months. Authorities have now placed the 97-year-old under house arrest.

Csatary denies the accusations against him. State prosecutor Tibor Ibolya said: "One of his arguments in his defence is that he was obeying orders."

Ibolya added Csatary was still an anti-Semite and showed no regret in overseeing the deportation of 15,700 Jews to Nazi extermination camps in 1944.

Ibolya said "He doesn't relate to certain fellow human beings in what we would consider to be a normal way. If you think about 1944 and why he is a suspect, I think it's clear what I mean."

Csatary is said to be co-operating with investigations and is in good physical and mental health considering his age.

Csatary was been convicted in absentia for war crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and sentenced to death. He arrived in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia the following year, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal.

The Sun newspaper reported how they had found Csatary living in Budapest with help from Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose Operation Last Chance is aimed at bringing surviving Nazi war criminals to justice.

In a statement the prosecutors said Csatary was in charge of a camp based in a brick factory where close to 12,000 Jews were deported.

The prosecutors said "In that position, Dr. Laszlo Cs. regularly whipped the deported Jews with a dogs' whip."

In Israel, Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, applauded the arrest.

Zuroff told the AP: "When you look at a person like this, you shouldn't see an old frail person, but think of a man who at the height of his physical powers devoted all his energy to murdering or persecuting and murdering innocent men, women and children."