Judge subpoenaes Argentine ex-president in AMIA inquiry

Judge subpoenaes Argentine ex-president in AMIA inquiry

Kirchner and 14 others barred from leaving country as court probes alleged cover-up of Iran links to 1994 bombing, Nisman death

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)

A judge has subpoenaed the former Argentinian president and former foreign minister to appear before the commission investigating the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires and the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the attack.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio also barred Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, former foreign minister Héctor Timerman and 13 other defendants from leaving the country until they have given evidence in the case, Argentinian media reported Tuesday.

Bonadio’s questioning of the individuals will begin with Timerman on October 17 and continue until October 26, with Kirchner expected to be the last to testify.

Former Argentinian foreign minister Hector Timerman (CC BY-MRECIC ARG, Flickr)

Kirchner’s questioning will come four days after elections in which she is expected to win a Senate seat in Argentina’s midterm elections, giving her immunity from arrest.

Nisman was discovered shot dead in his apartment in January 2015, hours before he was scheduled to appear in Congress. Nisman had been about to present allegations that then-president Kirchner orchestrated a secret deal to cover up Iranian officials’ role in the AMIA bombing. Kirchner denied the allegations and judges threw out the case.

It was reopened one year ago, though no conclusions have yet been announced. Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, who replaced Kirchner, has said he is “determined” to solve the mysterious death.

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)

Argentina has previously accused the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group of carrying out the attack, which killed 85 people, at the direction of Iran. No arrests have been made, and the investigation has been plagued with charges of incompetence and corruption.

Six Iranians have been on the Interpol international police agency’s most wanted list in connection with the bombing since 2007.

Earlier this month, the AMIA Special Investigation Unit of the Argentinian General Prosecution, which Nisman headed prior to his death, announced that newly analyzed DNA evidence from the bombing could provide a definitive link to suicide bomber Ibrahim Berro, the Hezbollah terrorist who carried out the attack and whose body was never found or identified until now.

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

The final report after two years of investigation by a forensics team, reveals for the first time the existence of a genetic profile among the preserved remains in the laboratory of the Federal Police that “doesn’t belong to any known victims.”

With this information prosecutors have taken steps “in the field of international cooperation to try to match the profile obtained with that of samples of relatives of the suspected individual.”

In 2005 special prosecutor Nisman identified Berro as the suicide bomber who carried out the attack. Berro’s brothers denied he was involved, claiming he was killed in fighting in Lebanon. Some Argentinian journalists also cast doubt on the assertion.

In addition to the AMIA bombing, Iran also sponsored the March 1992 attack in which a suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded hundreds in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in the deadliest-ever attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission.

A group with ties to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the bombing.

JTA contributed to this report.

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