Argentina's Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernández hoped the AMIA cover-up trial that began on Thursday in Buenos Aires enables to find a “hint on the local connection” that paved the way for Argentina’s worst terrorist attack to take place 21 years ago.
“For once and for all, we need this to be cleared; it is a matter that has taken a long time. If not, it seems it was been left to be forgotten,” the head of ministers said during his daily contact with the press at the government house.
Among those who will be sitting in the dock are former president Carlos Menem, ex-intelligence services head Hugo Anzorreguy, then police inspector Jorge Palacios and two deputies, accused of covering up the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires City that killed 85 people.
Furthermore, the first judge to conduct the AMIA investigation, Juan José Galeano, who was ousted in 2005 for improper performance of his duties, will have to give account for a bribe of US$400,000 allegedly paid to lawyer Carlos Telleldín so that he incriminated Buenos Aires province police agents and covered the so called “Syria track,” connecting Syrian business leaders that had close ties with the Menem family with the attack.
However the trial investigating the cover-up of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center finally opened with statements from prosecutors in the case, but without the attendance of former president Menem or his Intelligence chief Anzorreguy.
The hearing began just after 10.30 a.m with prosecutors reading the list of accusations against the defendants, related to the alleged 400,000 dollars bribe paid to former accused Carlos Telledín to give false testimony over the events surrounding the bombing.
A recess was called at 1 p.m, and proceedings restarted an hour later as the plaintiff's prosecutors made statements.
The lawyer of Carlos Menem had presented a medical report claiming he was suffering from high blood pressure, depression, osteoarthritis and diabetes, by way of his explaining his absence, but despite the court rejecting the petition the ex-president was nowhere to be seen on the first day of the trial.
Members of the Federal Oral Court No.2 (TOF 2) — in charge of judging the cover-up - said the report was “illegible,” with judges ordering a follow up on Menem’s health condition. They later ordered the trial to be resumed.
Anzorreguy is in hospital as a result of an infection contracted after undergoing surgery. The ex-spy chief followed proceedings via a video link set up from the Otamendi hospital.
Former judge Juan José Galeano along with former prosecutors Eamon Mullen and José Barbaccia — in charge of probing the attack — are fellow defendants in the case as is former Federal Police (PFA) inspector Jorge “Fino” Palacios.
Telleldín — who was acquitted in the 2001-2004 trial — will also have to explain his role in the attack this time.
Former DAIA head Rubén Beraja was accused of being involved in a maneuver that sought to blame a group of Buenos Aires provincial police officers for the deadliest attack suffered in Argentina.
The Executive will act as a plaintiff in the trial, represented by lawyer Luciano Hazan.