Judge asked to invalidate Iran-Argentine probe of 1994 bombing


An Argentine prosecutor has asked a judge to declare as unconstitutional an agreement between Argentina and Iran to jointly investigate the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that local courts blamed on Tehran.

Alberto Nisman, who oversaw an investigation of the AMIA center explosion that killed 85 people, presented the appeal to a federal judge on Wednesday, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Israel and world Jewish groups denounced the agreement under which Argentina and Iran formed a “truth commission” in January, saying it was a diplomatic win for Tehran, while offering no benefit to Argentina.

The agreement outlines plans for five Argentine officials who are not residents of Argentina or Iran to interview suspects in Iran. Nisman's appeal said the probe could result in sanctions for Argentina from international human rights bodies.

The commission violates rights protected by Argentina's constitution including judicial independence, the guarantee of due process, the right to effective judicial protection and the right to justice for victims, his motion said.

The bombing came two years after a group linked to Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital, which killed 29. Tehran has denied links to either attack.

In 2007, Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Led by the United States, the West has imposed sanctions on Iran – including targeting its key oil revenues – to force it into a diplomatic solution over its nuclear program, which Western nations believe is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez is allied with left-leaning leaders who have been on good terms with Tehran, such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Reporting by Guido Nejamkis; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Paul Simao

Hundreds rally in protest of Iran-Argentina pact


Some 300 people attended a protest rally against Argentine-Iranian cooperation in investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

Among the protestors on Feb. 14 in the Argentine capital were relatives of the survivors of the bombing of the AMIA center. Israeli and Argentinean justice authorities blame Iran for the attack.

“We ask Argentine society’s forgiveness for wasting a great privilege that democracy gave us,” Sergio Bergman, a lawmaker and Reform rabbi, said in a speech at the rally. “We had the first Jewish foreign minister and that is why we say sorry.”

Argentina’s first Jewish foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, on Jan. 27 signed a memorandum with his Iranian counterpart to set up a joint “truth commission,” prompting condemnations from members and leaders of Jewish communities in Latin America and beyond.

Philosopher, poet and writer Santiago Kovadloff mocked the government for the international criticism the pact has drawn.  “But our government is not alone,” he said. “Our government is with Iran.”

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has defended the pact as a way to break a long impasse and Timerman described it as a way to promote justice.

Iran has until now resisted appeals by Argentina and Interpol to amke available for interrogation top Iranian officials believed to have organized the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds of others.

The Argentine Upper House is scheduled to vote on whether to ratify the memorandum for Feb. 21 followed by the Lower House six days later. The party of President Kirchner enjoys a majority in both chambers and it is likely to pass.

Alberto Nisman, a lawyer representing AMIA, has meanwhile filed a criminal complaint with federal authorities on February 14 over a threat he received recently via email warning him to abandon his investigations of the bombings within 24 hours, or risk the wellbeing of his daughters.