Cristina Kirchner referred for public trial over alleged cover-up of Iranian involvement in 1994 Jewish center bombing
Argentina’s former president Cristina Kirchner and other senior members of her government have been referred for public trial over an alleged cover-up of Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing of a Jewish charity in Buenos Aires, the judiciary announced on Monday, according to AFP.
Judge Claudio Bonadio has closed the investigative phase of the case, referring it to a higher level court for a public trial, the judiciary said. A start date has yet to be set.
The bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Aid (AMIA) organization killed 85 people, the deadliest attack of its kind on Argentine soil.
Kirchner, her former foreign minister Hector Timerman and others in her 2007-2015 administration are accused of abuse of power and obstruction for signing a memorandum of understanding with Iran in 2012 that would have established a “truth commission” to investigate the bombing.
The case against them was opened in January 2015, on the basis of charges brought by Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who was found dead in mysterious circumstances four days later.
Nisman had claimed that the memorandum of understanding was a maneuver to cover up for the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in the attack.
Nisman had drafted arrest warrants for Kirchner and Timerman in connection with the cover-up, but was found dead before he could file them. A judge recently ruled that Nisman was murdered and did not commit suicide.
While the case languished after Nisman’s death, but Bonadio reactivated it in August 2016.
Kirchner, who has denounced the charges against her as a political persecution, nonetheless has said she welcomes an open trial to prove her innocence.
She is accused of allegedly receiving oil and trade benefits from Iran in exchange for signing off on the deal that enabled the suspects in the AMIA bombing to avoid prosecution.
Leaders of Argentina’s Jewish community, which at 300,000 people is the largest in Latin America, criticized the accord between Argentina and Iran when it was signed in 2012. In 2014, an Argentine court declared the agreement to be unconstitutional.
Iran, for its part, has denied involvement in the AMIA attack.
In January of this year, INN reported that former Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman, who is being treated for cancer, was released from house arrest.
The prosecution had previously rejected his request for release, but substitute Judge Sergio Torres granted his release “on humanitarian grounds,” the agency said.
Timerman was a member of ex-president Cristina Kirchner’s government from 2010-2015 and was placed under house arrest in December after being accused of covering up Iranian involvement in the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center.
Former Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman had drafted arrest warrants for Kirchner and Timerman in connection with the cover-up, but was found dead before he could file them.
Also in January, a judge ruled that Nisman was murdered and did not commit suicide.
As for Timerman, the 64-year-old former minister had obtained a permit from Argentina’s justice ministry to travel to New York for treatment for cancer, which has confined him to a wheelchair.
According to Argentine press reports, when his visa was checked at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza airport in January but he was prevented from boarding the flight.
Kirchner’s parliamentary group reacted angrily to the incident at the time.
By: Elad Benari