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March 1, 2016 6:39 pm

Breakthrough in Unsolved Mystery of Argentinian Prosecutor’s Death Not Likely to Affect Relations With Iran, Analysts Say

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The aftermath of the 1994 car-bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Photo: Wikipedia.

The aftermath of the 1994 car-bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Photo: Wikipedia.

“I believe the recent replacement of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with President Mauricio Macri makes a great deal of difference, even where this case is concerned,” a top adviser to former US President George W. Bush told The Algemeiner on Tuesday, as reports emerged of a possible breakthrough in an unsolved mystery that has rocked Argentina for the past year. “Today, at the top of the Argentinian government is someone who has nothing to hide; who will not protect liars and perjurers; and who wants to see justice done. This will affect the conduct of police, soldiers, prosecutors and judges.”

Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Washington, DC-based Council on Foreign Relations, was referring to new developments in the case of Alberto Nisman — the prosecutor found shot dead in his home on the day he was to produce damning evidence against Kirchner – which has been the subject of much international speculation, due to its connection to the 1994 car bombing of the Jewish center in Buenes Aires, which left 85 people dead and hundreds wounded.

On Monday, Antonio Stiuso, former operations chief of Argentina’s spy agency, was questioned in a closed-door hearing about his relationship with Nisman and the days leading up to the latter’s January 18, 2015 death. Stiuso had been helping Nisman with the investigation into the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah with Iran’s backing. And, according to reports ahead of the hearing, Nisman phoned the former spymaster several times on the day before he died, though Stiuso purportedly claimed not to have received the calls.

The content of Stiuso’s testimony, according to a UK-based commentator on Argentine affairs, has not been revealed. However, Eamonn MacDonagh told The Algemeiner, “Stiuso, of course, knows everything about the AMIA massacre. As regards Nisman’s death, it’s hard to say precisely what he knows. He was removed from his position a month before it happened. We’ll have a better idea after his testimony leaks.”

Stiuso’s arrival from abroad, where he fled in April 2014 amid claims he was receiving death threats, comes on the heels of another development — the publicly stated belief of a top prosecutor that Nisman’s death was a homicide, the first such declaration on the part of a judicial official in Argentina.

If it is established that Nisman was, in fact, murdered, will this lead to the opening of a criminal investigation into suspects, such as Kirchner herself?

“Perhaps,” said Abrams, “which is a lot better than the answer I would have given prior to Macri’s election. That would have been, ‘Are you crazy?’ At least now there is a chance, and some people associated with the Kirchners will be prosecuted for other crimes. It seems to me possible that the crimes connected to Iran will be, too.”

As The Algemeiner reported in December, recordings of 2012 phone conversations between former Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and Jewish leaders – concerned about the government’s conducting of a joint investigation with Tehran into the AMIA bombing — revealed that he and Kirchner knew Iran had “planted the bomb,” but thought it best to cooperate with the Islamic Republic anyway.

In the wake of the nuclear deal recently reached between Iran and world powers, can the issue of the Islamic Republic’s alleged culpability in the worst attack in Argentina’s history be revived?

“Probably not,” said MacDonagh. “Because even if Argentina were to put some effort into pressuring Iran in international forums to extradite the perpetrators, the move wouldn’t get much support from the US now.”

“I don’t think any country, from the US to Argentina, will change its relations with Iran over this,” Abrams concluded.

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