Argentina judge orders arrest of ex-president Kirchner over Iran terror cover-up
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Argentina judge orders arrest of ex-president Kirchner over Iran terror cover-up

Former leader suspected of hiding Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires

Argentina's former president and Buenos Aires senatorial candidate for the Unidad Ciudadana Party, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner waving to supporters at Juan Domingo Peron stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires,  October 16, 2017. (EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP)
Argentina's former president and Buenos Aires senatorial candidate for the Unidad Ciudadana Party, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner waving to supporters at Juan Domingo Peron stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, October 16, 2017. (EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP)

An Argentine judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of the country’s former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing at a Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 people dead.

Judge Claudio Bonadio accused Kirchner of the crime of treason as he asked lawmakers to remove the immunity from prosecution she has as a senator.

Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano said the judge also ordered the arrest of former Kirchner aide Carlos Zanni and activist Luis D’Elia on the same charges. Former foreign minister Hector Timerman was ordered held under house arrest due to health issues.

The former president is accused of signing a deal with Tehran to allow Iranian officials suspected of ordering the attack on the Jewish center to be interviewed by Argentine magistrates in Tehran rather than in Buenos Aires.

She has previously called the case an “absurdity.”

“As happens regularly in Argentina, the news was first leaked to the press and Cristina has not yet been notified,” an aide to the former president told AFP.

In November an investigation by the country’s border police agency concluded that Alberto Nisman, who led the probe into the Buenos Aires terror attack, was murdered just four days after he formally accused then-president Kirchner of covering up the role of former Iranian officials in the attack.

Prosecutors subsequently ordered a murder investigation into Nisman’s death that previously been ruled a likely suicide. Nisman, 51, was found dead on January 18, 2015, with a bullet in his right temple. A .22 caliber pistol was found next to him.

Alberto Nisman, the late prosecutor who investigated the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The Jewish center bombing case is the most serious before Kirchner, who is facing trial in several other cases involving corruption and money laundering stemming from her years as president.

Last week, the court rejected an appeal by Kirchner to dismiss the laundering charges. The 64-year-old faces charges including money laundering, bribery and criminal conspiracy in the so-called Hotesur case, named after a Kirchner family hotel business in Patagonia, the suspected source of the allegedly laundered funds.

The rejected appeal also applies to her children Maximo, 40, and Florencia, 27, according to the Center for Judicial Information.

Kirchner, 64, who had two four-year terms in office, is due to take her seat in the Senate next week after her election victory in October crowned a political comeback and granted her immunity from imprisonment in several corruption cases.

The Senate will now have to vote on lifting her immunity at the judge’s request, for which a two-thirds majority is needed.

Kirchner’s leftist alliance in the Senate has a total of 32 seats, but only around a dozen senators are in the Kirchner camp. The center-right Cambiemos alliance of President Mauricio Macri has 25 seats in the upper house.

Several prominent members of her former government have been detained on corruption charges in recent weeks, including ex-public works minister Julio De Vido and Amado Boudou, Kirchner’s vice president from 2011 to 2015.

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