Saturday, February 14, 2015

Argentine Prosecutor Presses for Indictment of President

BUENOS AIRES – An Argentine prosecutor filed papers on Friday to indict President Cristina Fernandez and eight others based on the accusations leveled by the late Alberto Nisman days before his Jan. 18 death.

Gerardo Pollicita asked Judge Daniel Rafecas to authorize charges against Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and six other people for trying to conceal the involvement of Iran in a deadly 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires.

Nisman, the special prosecutor investigating the car-bomb blast that left 85 dead at the offices of the Jewish organization AMIA, was found fatally shot four days after unveiling the allegations against the president.

Nisman’s brief, now taken up by Pollicita, cites the Memorandum of Understanding the Fernandez administration signed with Iran in 2013 to facilitate the AMIA investigation as the principal instrument of the purported cover-up.

The late prosecutor said that intercepts of telephone among some of the prospective defendants – though not Fernandez or Timerman – showed the outlines of a plan for Argentina to get Interpol to rescind the red notices the international police agency had issued for the arrest of the Iranians accused in the AMIA bombing.

In exchange, according to Nisman, Iran was supposed to sell oil to Argentina.

The Fernandez administration has pointed out that no part of the ostensible conspiracy ever came to fruition, while the man who headed Interpol for 15 years until last November rebutted Nisman’s key accusation.

“I can say with 100 percent certainty, not a scintilla of doubt, that Foreign Minister Timerman and the Argentine government have been steadfast, persistent and unwavering that the Interpol’s red notices be issued, remain in effect and not be suspend or removed,” Ronald K. Noble said last month.

The Argentine government, in a brief filed with the courts hours before Pollicita’s motion, provided documentation of Buenos Aires’ contacts with Interpol in the AMIA matter.

Argentina’s opposition parties welcomed the push to indict Fernandez, who will leave office in December after two terms.

Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran’s Hezbollah allies.

Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement and the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction in the case.

In September 2004, 22 people accused in the bombing were acquitted after a process plagued with delays, irregularities and tales of witnesses’ being paid for their testimony.

The attack against the AMIA building was the second terrorist strike against Jewish targets in Argentina. In March 1992, a car bomb was detonated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and wounding more than 100 others.

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