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July 16, 2021 4:45 pm
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Argentine Jewish Leader: AMIA Bombing Court Hearing Held on Day of Ceremony ‘Goes Against the Memory’ of Victims

avatar by Yoni Wilkenfeld

People hold images of the victims of the 1994 bombing attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) community centre, marking the 25th anniversary of the atrocity in Buenos Aires. Photo: Reuters/Agustin Marcarian.

The head of Argentina’s umbrella Jewish group has lambasted the timing of a court hearing — part of the long-running legal aftermath of the 1994 bombing against the country’s Jewish community headquarters — that was held on the same day that victims commemorated the anniversary of the deadly terror attack.

The public court hearing was scheduled on Friday for Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to defend herself in an inquiry into a 2013 agreement her then-government had negotiated with Iran.

The Iranian regime orchestrated the July 18, 1994 attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish center, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded — and which, 27 years later, has left Argentine Jews still seeking to bring those responsible to justice.

Drawing the community’s outrage, Friday’s hearing coincided with a memorial event planned by AMIA and the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA), an umbrella Jewish organization, that began at 9:53 a.m., the time at which the attack on the Jewish center occurred.

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In response to a request from AMIA and DAIA to hold the session on another day, the federal court postponed the virtual hearing by one hour, from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.

DAIA president Jorge Knoblovits said that the timing was “unnecessarily confrontational and goes against the memory” of the victims, in an interview with Argentine journalist Cristina Pérez on Radio Mitre.

“If the feelings of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack of the 20th century are disrespected, it is very difficult to reach justice and end impunity,” Knoblovits said. “We are very ashamed and very embarrassed that you cannot wait two, three weeks or a month to exercise the right of defense, which you can do so legitimately and constitutionally. But to do so today is offensive.”

“July is a month of remembrance, of homage, of claim for justice. It is not a month to politicize a cause,” he continued.

The six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives behind the attack have escaped arrest and prosecution, while investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered in 2015, just before he was to unveil accusations against then-President Kirchner of working with Iran to cover up the attack.

In December 2020, a shocking decision acquitted another individual charged with supplying the truck used in the terrorist bombing.

“Neither the court nor the defendants are unaware that today is the day of the act of remembrance and demand for justice, because we have not forgotten that it has been 27 years since we have had justice,” Knoblovits said on Friday. “It has been 27 years that there are six people with red alerts circulating around the world and that they have not been punished in the Argentinean Justice system.”

Kirchner, who served as the Argentine president from 2007 to 2015, has been vice president since 2019. She and her co-defendants had requested the hearing to seek a dismissal of the inquiry into accusations of collusion with Iran, which on Friday she called “institutional, judicial and political nonsense,” according to the Argentine newspaper Clarín.

Friday’s Spanish-language tribute organized by AMIA and DAIA, was live-streamed on YouTube, included testimony from survivors, as well as a montage of photographs of the 85 victims.

Portrayed in an virtual “march” before an image of the site where they were killed, their faces appeared under the event’s slogan: “connected against impunity.”

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