July 20, 2018 | ° F

Work for justice, disregard time frame

It appears that, for at least one man, World War II isn't quite over just yet. Sandor Kepiro, a 96-year-old former Hungarian military officer, has been charged with war crimes from 1942 regarding the killing of 1,200 Serbian civilians. In response to these charges, Kepiro has stated, "I am innocent and need to be acquitted … I am bedridden and can't leave my home. I have nothing." The decision to charge the man now, almost 70 years later, raises a salient question — that is, should the crimes committed during wartime pursue a person for the rest of their life? In the interest of the very principle of justice, we have to say yes.

We are not claiming that Kepiro is definitely guilty. His innocence is certainly up for debate, seeing as we do not have all of the necessary facts to come to any semblance of a conclusion regarding whether Kepiro should be convicted. Rather, the point is that, if Kepiro is indeed guilty, he deserves to be punished, regardless of his age or the large amount of time that has elapsed since the crimes were committed. In any case — especially one wherein so many innocent people lost their lives — justice must be served. There is no doubt about that.

It is difficult to look at a 96-year-old man and demand he be brought to trial. People are bound to feel the inevitable twinge of sympathy when the accused is so near the end of his life. One almost wants to forget the charges and let him be. Yet doing so would be an injustice, even if that truth is hard to swallow for some — and it understandably is.

It does not matter that nearly 70 years have passed since the slaughter in question occurred. The window of opportunity to serve justice to atrocities never closes. The crimes may seem distant now, but, on the scale of human history, they are actually fairly recent. Even if these crimes were committed over a century ago, people would be required to seize the opportunity to correct the wrongs in whatever way they could. Pain can resonate through seemingly indefinite spans of time, and while bringing Kepiro to justice — that is, if he is guilty — may not make up entirely for the loss of 1,200 lives, it certainly mitigates some of the hurt.

The Daily Targum

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