Argentine President Mauricio Macri, together with members of the government and civil organizations attended on Monday in Buenos Aires the main ceremony commemorating the attack on the headquarters of the AMIA Jewish community organization in 1994, a crime that so far has gone unpunished.
Scores of people gathered at the scene of the attack to pay homage to the 85 victims who died and hundreds maimed and injured when the attack on 18 July 1994 in downtown Buenos Aires.
Macri, accompanied by Cabinet chief Marcos Peña and other government ministers placed a floral tribute at the memorial and at 9:53 a.m. a siren sounded beginning the ceremony, the exact time on the tragic day of 1994 when the bomb exploded at the seat of the AMIA. One by one, the victims were named.
Ralph Thomas Saieg, AMIA vice-president addressing authorities and public urged the government to make the investigation into the 1994 terrorist attack a “state priority” and called for the judiciary to “exhaust all the steps” to take the responsible for the local connection to trial.
We ask the head of AMIA Special Unit Mario Cimadevilla, and Justice Minister Germán Garavano, that the case becomes a state priority. We know you have been in your posts for a short time, but we have been calling for justice for 22 years and bearing the sad reality of not having even one person arrested”, the community leader said during his speech.
Saieg stated “there is a local connection which must be investigated” and called for “judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and prosecutors Sabrina Namer, Roberto Salum and Leonardo Filippini, who have replaced Alberto Nisman in the AMIA case, to investigate and exhaust all the proceedings to take those who helped terrorists in Argentine soil, to trial.” We want specific progress in the investigation,” he affirmed.
He considered the gestures of Mauricio Macri’s government towards the investigation “positive” and celebrated the nullification of Argentina’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran. “It was a useless instrument,” he stated.
Mauricio Macri attended the official event for the first time as president left after Saieg’s speech, because of a full agenda.
Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran's Hezbollah allies. Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement and the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel's Mossad spy agency.
Prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction in the case. In September 2004, 22 people accused in the bombing were acquitted after a process plagued with delays, irregularities and tales of witnesses being paid for their testimony.
The attack against the AMIA building was the second terrorist strike against Jewish targets in Argentina. In March 1992, a car bomb was detonated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and injuring another 100.
Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, 250 experts and parliamentarians from 17 countries gathered for the biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism to assess the state of global anti-Semitism and to discuss social and governmental responses. The forum has been organized by the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition—a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; the Israeli Foreign Ministry; and the World Jewish Congress through its regional chapter, the Latin American Jewish Congress.