Argentina ex-leader Kirchner to be tried over AMIA bombing cover-up

Former president and 11 others face charges they helped Iranians hide role in 1994 terror attack on Jewish center that killed 85

Former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech in Buenos Aires on June 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH)
Former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech in Buenos Aires on June 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will face trial on charges she covered up the role of Iranians in a 1994 terrorist bombing at a Jewish center in Argentina’s capital, judicial authorities announced Monday.

Eleven other former officials and people close to Kirchner’s government will also be tried on charges of cover-up and abuse of power, Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio said in a ruling released by Argentina’s official CIJ Judicial Information Center.

The trial date has not been set.

So far, four of the accused have been detained. In December, Bonadio asked lawmakers to remove Kirchner’s immunity from prosecution, which she gained last year when she was sworn in as a senator. Legislators have not acted on the request. The immunity protects her from being arrested, but she can still be tried.

Kirchner, who was president in 2007-2015, denies any wrongdoing or involvement in any cover-up involving Argentina’s worst terror attack. The 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association center in Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Iran denies any involvement.

The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires (Newspaper La Nación (Argentina/Wikipedia Commons)

The judge backed an assertion against Kirchner made on January 14, 2015, by Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who was investigating the case. Nisman said the 2013 agreement that Kirchner’s government made with Iran in exchange for favorable deals on oil and other goods ensured that Iranian officials involved in the attack would escape prosecution.

Argentina’s public prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, gives a news conference in Buenos Aires, May 20, 2009. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

Nisman was found dead in his apartment with a bullet wound in his right temple four days later. His case remains unsolved. But last year, an investigation by Argentina’s border police agency concluded that Nisman was murdered, contradicting earlier official findings that Nisman likely killed himself.

Kirchner, a left-of-center politician, blames the accusations against her on what she says is the bias of judges following the orders of her conservative successor, President Mauricio Macri. She recently said she wanted to go on trial as soon as possible to prove the “arbitrariness of the accusation.”

Women hold placards that read “Justice” and “I Am Nisman” during a rally in front of the headquarters of the AMIA memorial in Buenos Aires on January 21, 2015, to protest against the death of Argentine public prosecutor Alberto Nisman. (photo credit: AFP/Alejandro PAGNI)

Kirchner has defended the 2013 deal with Iran as a way to solve the bombing case. But Jewish groups and other criticized it at the time, saying Tehran had failed to turn over suspects.

A joint “truth commission” called for by the deal was approved by Argentina’s Congress but it was never formed because it was later ruled by local courts to be unconstitutional.

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