Argentine Jewish community calls on Congress to reject understanding with Iran
Argentine Jewish leaders from Community Centres AMIA and DAIA, Guillermo Borger and Julio Schlosser rejected on Tuesday once more the agreement signed by the Argentine and Iranian governments last week to investigate the 1994 AMIA centre bombing which killed 85 people and left hundreds injured.
In a communiqué sent to reporters the two leaders also urged the Argentine congress to vote against the agreement which will be debated on Wednesday by the Senate asking them to continue with the Argentine democratic tradition, supporting its values and rejecting the agreement.
The Argentine Jewish Community reiterates the agreement with Iran is a major set-back in the pursuit of Justice for the terrorist attacks perpetrated in our country, AMIA and DAIA stressed
The release was in reaction to a statement from Iran denying that Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi would be questioned in the AMIA case after Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman pledged to the local Jewish community Vahidi would be interrogated in the AMIA terrorist attack investigation (which took place 19 years ago in 2004), under the agreement signed last week between Argentina and Iran.
The accord in fact is close to failure considering that opposition politicians and Jewish Community Centre AMIA and DAIA leaders have already reacted to it and after the battle of words between President Cristina Fernández and AMIA president Guillermo Borger in Twitter last weekend.
Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman announced on January 30 that Vahidi who is a defendant in the case, would be questioned in Teheran by an Argentine judge, being a key part of the bilateral accord between the countries.
“The questioning of an Iranian official is totally false. It seems as those who are uncomfortable with this agreement taking place allow this kind of information to filter through,” the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday.
“Both the Iranian and Argentine officials agreed to cooperate in order to make this case more transparent, the agreement is in motion and it will help to resolve any problems tied to it,” he added.
“I was sure that he would be present when the judge questioned him, and he will be,” Timerman assured, three days after the agreement was signed with his counterpart Ali Salehi for an independent commission to look into the attack. Since 2012 the two sides have been holding discussions to define a judicial mechanism compatible with both judicial procedures.
In 2006 Argentine Justice demanded the extradition of eight Iranian top officials including the current Defence minister Ahmad Vahidi, former president Alí Rafsanjani (1989-1997) and former foreign secretary Alí Akbar Velayati, with international warrants supported by Interpol.
Argentine Justice also suspects that Iran could be involved in car-bomb attack on the Israel embassy in Buenos Aires killing 29 and injuring over 200 people. Teheran always denied any involvement but Israel and western intelligence think contrary.
The Jewish community in Argentina, the most important in Latinamerica has rejected the understanding between Iran and Argentina, while Israel said it was disappointed and protested as ‘unacceptable’ the Argentine attitude towards the Teheran regime while Washington expressed ‘scepticism’ over possible results.
The dispute between the Jewish community and opposition lawmakers with President Cristina Fernandez and minister Hector Timerman seems to hinge on two “legal terms” under the Argentina criminal code: ‘questioning or interrogation’ or an ‘inquiry’ by the agreed commission without the presence of the judge or prosecutor.
A former prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo and an advisor of the Jewish community said ‘if the Iranian defence minister is involved” in the AMIA attack, “it’s going to be difficult for Teheran to have an impartial attitude in the search for the truth”.
“The success or failure of that effort (by the commission) will depend on the capability and integrity of” its “members,” he argued, adding that “presenting the names of candidates to make up the commission” is a “key issue” that would greatly help the discussion.”
He concluded by suggesting the bill be amended to establish an “interrogation” rather than an “inquiry” by the commission “without the presence of the judge or prosecutor”.
However Julian Dominguez, president of the Lower House and belonging to the Kirchner block downplayed the statements from Teheran and promised that Argentina will exhaust all resources to find out the truth about the 1994 terrorist attack.
“Whatever the others do, is up to them. What the Argentine state must do is defend its people and fight for truth and solving the case” said Dominguez.
However Argentine political analysts insist they still can’t fully understand President Cristina Fernandez determination to go ahead with the Iran understanding despite all the flaws and increasing criticisms.