Argentina’s AMIA Jewish Community Centre President, Guillermo Borger, harshly criticized the approval of the Argentina-Iran accord, which occurred Thursday early morning after nearly 20 hours of debate, and warned that the institution analyzes resorting to court to stop it.
We're taking it to all instances in the courts, Borger told TN news channel and then stressed that AMIA “will make a presentation to the Argentine Supreme Court seeking invalidation of the agreement.”
Upon approval, Borger said ”after 20 hours of debate, no one responded to what is behind this. Now let’s see what happens”. Likewise he said that the creation of the joint (Argentina/Iran) commission intended to advance in the investigation of the 1994 bombing attack will only represent ”a big delay the case”.
To end, Borger said that “the so-called Truth Commission makes no sense, as the Argentine judge in charge can travel to Iran to question the defendants without the need of a memorandum.”
After twenty hours of exhausting debate and 80 speakers, and with the government or President Cristina Fernandez appealing to all its lawmakers, early Thursday the Argentine Lower House managed to approve the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 131 votes in favour and 113 against.
With the presence of Beatriz Mirkin and Carlos Eliceche, the two deputies who temporarily resigned their provincial posts to attend the Lower House floor session, the Victory Front (FpV) and its allied parties reached quorum, and after a day-long debate passed into law the bill to give treaty status to the MOU signed with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 AMIA terrorist attack which killed 85 and injured hundreds in downtown Buenos Aires.
Quorum was reached with the presence of 132 deputies, after which the opposition caucuses took their seats in recognition that their unanimous boycott attempt had failed.
The debate began at noon and was expected to drag on into the early hours of the morning but with its comfortable majority the government was certain to pass the controversial bill, widely condemned by the opposition and Jewish organizations.
The main issues slammed were the Argentine government’s unilateral approach, the secrecy of negotiations with Iran and the lack of an obligatory component to ensure the suspects are probed or eventually arrested.
As the debate began, Foreign Relations Committee chairman Guillermo Carmona defended the accord by affirming: “We want the Iranian officials to testify, this is the objective,” something “which Argentina has long yearned for.”
Two deputies, Laura Alonso (PRO) and Patricia Bullrich (Union For Everyone) requested and were granted questions of privilege to discuss separate issues. Amid shouts of “shut up” by Kirchnerite deputies, Alonso denounced the insult to her person by FpV Deputy Andrés Larroque during Tuesday’s committee debate, called for him to apologize and apologized herself for having retorted offensively. Bullrich denounced the presence of Mirkin and Eliceche as a “mockery” which “stains the credibility of institutions.”
Regarding the bill, Alonso affirmed that “it will be impossible for the suspects to be probed” or “interrogated,” because “Iranian law will prevail.” Bullrich assured the agreement contradicts the Constitution, which prohibits the executive branch’s interference in judicial cases, and condemned trusting “a country which denies the Holocaust.”
According to Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, the accord will enable the interrogation of only those Iranian officials requested by Argentine Justice and which also have a ‘red alert’ arrest order from Interpol.
They are Iran minister of defence Ahmad Vahidi; former information minister Alí Fallahijan; former government advisor Mohsen Rezai; former attaché of the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, Moshen Rabbani and diplomat Ahmad Reza Ashgari. The accord leaves out of the case, former deputy minister of foreign affairs for Africa, Hadi Soleimanpour; former president Alí Akbar Rafsanjani and former foreign affairs minister Alí Akbar Velayati, who have arrest orders from Argentina since 2006 but with no ‘red alert’ from Interpol.
Radical (UCR) Deputy Ricardo Alfonsín asserted the “accord does not represent the opinion of the immense majority of Argentines,” adding that “signing this would be signing a blank cheque for those accused of the worst terrorist attack in Argentine history”.
Opposition lawmakers anticipated that if the bill is approved as it came from the Senate is likely to be appealed as legal consultants confirmed the treaty could essentially infringe Articles 19, 108 and 118 of the Constitution.
During the long hours of debate a large crowd from diverse backgrounds congregated before the Argentine Congress calling for deputies to vote against the bill, with many Buenos Aires streets blocked.
Laura Ginsberg leader of an organization of relatives of the “AMIA massacre” proclaimed the “severity” of the situation and condemned the “policy of impunity of Cristina Fernández government”, which has allegedly covered up the local connection and fostered an unclear Iranian connection.