Simon Wiesenthal Center, Operation: Last Chance Rewards for Justice, Jerusalem
Operation: Last Chance was launched in July 2002 by Targum Shlishi and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. The program offers a reward of ten thousand dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi war criminals. The program has now been launched in nine countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Germany.
In 2005 the program launched in Germany and also went online with a multilingual website. Also in 2005 the case progressed against Charles (Karoly) Zentai, a Hungarian officer now living in Australia who is accused of the murder of at least one Jewish teenager in Budapest and of conducting manhunts of Jews in fall 1944. Based on evidence supplied by the Wiesenthal Center, the Hungarian government issued an international warrant for his arrest and submitted a request for his extradition to the Australian government, which signed the extradition request. A second case that progressed in 2005 is that of Milivoj Ašner, chief of police of the Croatian city of Poûega in 1941-42, when he played an active role in the persecution and deportation of the city’s three hundred Jews as well as hundreds of Serbs and Gypsies. A criminal investigation was initiated in response to a dossier submitted to the Croation President Croatian President Stjepan Mesi? and to Attorney-General Mladen Baji? by Operation Last Chance. Ašner then escaped to Austria. We have been informed that Croatia is going to ask for his extradition and he is also under investigation in Austria. Several other suspects are currently under investigation.