Argentine Judge Indicts Former President Kirchner, FM Timerman, for Collusion With Iran in AMIA Bombing Cover-Up
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner faces losing her parliamentary immunity as the first step toward a treason trial over a cover-up of Iran’s responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.
On Thursday, Argentine federal judge Claudio Bonadio — who is investigating the alleged collusion between Kirchner’s government and the Iranian regime in a secret 2011 pact that exonerated Tehran for the bombing — asked lawmakers in the Senate to strip Kirchner of her immunity. The former president was elected as a senator from Buenos Aires province in October’s midterm elections.
Bonadio’s probe is based on the complaint against Kirchner and her associates assembled by former federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman — who spent a decade investigating the AMIA bombing, before being found murdered in his Buenos Aires apartment in January 2015.
On a day that saw the most sensational developments in the AMIA case since Nisman’s murder, Bonadio also placed the ailing former foreign minister, Hector Timerman, under house arrest and issued subpoenas for key Kirchner lieutenants, including former intelligence chief Oscar Parrilli. Argentine police arrested another of Kirchner’s most trusted political aides, former legal advisor Carlos Zanini, along with pro-Kirchner activists Luis D’Elia, Fernando Esteche and Jorge “Yusuf” Khalil.
Video of Khalil’s arrest on Thursday morning showed him shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” before a small crowd of supporters as Argentine police led him from his home to a waiting car.
(Article continues beneath video)
El agente iraní Yusef Khalil es detenido al grito de Allahu Akbar. pic.twitter.com/epQ7LeKLr9
— Bracesco (@Bracesco) December 7, 2017
Wednesday’s actions by Bonadio are a milestone in his federal inquiry into Nisman’s allegation that Kirchner and her colleagues committed treason in their dealings with Iran — a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Eamonn MacDonagh, an expert on Argentine politics who has written widely on the AMIA case, said that Bonadio’s indictments amounted to a “vindication of Alberto Nisman and a vindication of Pepe Eliaschev.” It was Argentine journalist Eliaschev who broke the news of the Argentina-Iran secret pact in March 2011 — and who was denounced by Timerman at the time as a “pseudo-journalist.”
But throughout 2017, Bonadio’s inquiry has heard several testimonies that flatly contradict Kirchner and her colleague’s account of events. In August, the inquiry heard from Argentina’s former ambassador in Syria, Roberto Ahuad, definitive confirmation that Timerman had unexpectedly flown to Aleppo while on an official trip to Damascus in January 2011. Once there, he signed the pact with his Iranian counterpart at a meeting hosted by the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad.
Eighty-five people were killed and hundreds more wounded on July 18, 1994, when a vehicle packed with explosives plowed into the AMIA building in downtown Buenos Aires. No one has been convicted for the atrocity, and it was not until Nisman took over the investigation in 2005 that Interpol, the global law enforcement agency, eventually issued warrants known as “Red Notices” for five Iranian and one Hezbollah operatives in connection with the bombing.
MacDonagh said that the defendants in any future trial would argue that there was nothing illegal about the deal with Iran. “There is no doubt the pact was a betrayal of the AMIA victims, it was kowtowing to Iran, but was it treason in the legal sense?” MacDonagh told The Algemeiner. “That’s what needs to be established.”
Toby Dershowitz – senior vice president of the non-partisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), who has tracked the AMIA case for many years – said that the indictments demonstrated that “those who cooperate in malign activities with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism risk suffering the consequences. ”
“While the AMIA bombing took place many years ago, the lessons from Nisman’s investigations continue to shed important light for law enforcement and policy makers who are working on addressing Iran’s destabilizing and nefarious undertakings,” Dershowitz told The Algemeiner. “They remain as relevant as ever today as they did when Nisman was alive.”