Argentine presidential candidate testifies in Kirchner Iran cover-up case
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Argentine presidential candidate testifies in Kirchner Iran cover-up case

Alberto Fernandez questioned on 2015 claim that ex-president and running mate absolved perpetrators of terror attack on AMIA Jewish center to secure lucrative oil deals with Tehran

In this May 25, 2019 file photo, presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, left, and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, greet supporters during their kick-off campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)
In this May 25, 2019 file photo, presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, left, and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, greet supporters during their kick-off campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez testified Wednesday in a case against his running mate and former president Cristina Kirchner, who is accused of covering for Iran over a bomb attack on a Jewish center.

Fernandez’s testimony was sought due to a 2015 newspaper interview in which he criticized Kirchner for allowing Iranian suspects to be questioned back home over the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

The deal was never ratified by Tehran, but prosecutors investigating Kirchner for corruption say it was effectively a cover-up to absolve Iran in return for lucrative trade deals with her government.

“What I said was only an opinion,” said Fernandez as he left the court.

“Everyone knows I was a critic of the pact. I spoke about what I thought and witnesses don’t testify about what they think, but rather what they know,” added the 60-year-old, Kirchner’s former cabinet chief.

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

Opposition leader Kirchner, 66, who was president from 2007-15, sprung a surprise in May, announcing she would run for the vice-presidency and Fernandez for the top job.

She had been leading polls ahead of incumbent President Mauricio Macri for October’s election.

However, she has found herself implicated in a dozen criminal investigations, mostly for corruption relating to her time in office and that of her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, who preceded her as president from 2003-2007.

Kirchner was indicted in 2017 for whitewashing Iran’s alleged role in the attack.

Prosecutors are examining whether or not the agreement with Iran aimed at covering for the attack’s perpetrators.

Fernandez had said in his 2015 interview that “the cover is the accord, it’s the pact.”

Alberto Nisman gives a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 20, 2009. (AFP/Juan Mabromata)

“In one case we’d be talking in criminal terms about an instigator, who is the president, and in the other case about a direct perpetrator, who is the one who signed the agreement,” he said.

The case was originally based on a 2015 accusation by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances a few days later.

Nisman’s accusation was twice dismissed before judge Claudio Bonadio took up the cause in 2016, after Macri had replaced Kirchner as president.

Kirchner claims, as she does with all the corruption cases against her, that she is the victim of political persecution.

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