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P4Z-0hy22ZRyqh5IUeLwjcY3L_M

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Judge Dismisses Suit Accusing Argentine President of Obstructing Nisman Probe


BUENOS AIRES – A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit alleging that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and other administration officials obstructed the probe into the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had accused the head of state of seeking to cover up the involvement of Iran in a 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that claimed 85 lives.

Judge Ariel Lijo said Argentine journalist Cristian Sanz’s accusations against Fernandez for alleged abuse of authority and breach of her public duties had no merit due to the “absence of a crime,” state-run news agency Telam reported.

“There are no solid arguments” to support the accusation, Lijo said.

Sanz also named Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez, Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbo and Security Secretary Sergio Berni in his complaint, filed on Feb. 6.

He accused the president of “engaging in reckless conduct” by initially publicly supporting the hypothesis of suicide but then days later changing course and saying the January fatal shooting of Nisman was a homicide, thus “sullying the judicial investigation” into the prosecutor’s death.

The journalist also accused the other administration officials of “casting suspicion” on former agents at Argentina’s intelligence agency who had recently been fired and on Diego Lagomarsino, who worked for the prosecutor and provided him with the gun that killed him.

Lagomarsino has been charged with providing a firearm to someone not licensed to use one.

Nisman, the special prosecutor for the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish organization, was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment on Jan. 18, four days after he announced the charges against Fernandez.

The prosecutor died of a single shot to the temple. The case remains under investigation as a “suspicious death.”

Another prosecutor, Gerardo Pollicita, took up the accusation following Nisman’s death and filed a brief with Judge Daniel Rafecas in mid-February asking him to approve formal charges against Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and six other people.

But that magistrate dismissed the charges late last month, saying in a ruling that the evidence does not provide even minimal support for the accusations against Fernandez or the others.

Pollicita on Wednesday appealed that ruling.

Nisman’s accusation against Fernandez cited the Memorandum of Understanding her 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 calls 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 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, and 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 in January.

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 some have pointed out that the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency, both with an interest in blackening the reputation of Tehran.

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.

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