Argentina judge dismisses cover-up case against President

An Argentine judge dismissed the case against President Cristina Kirchner for allegedly shielding Iranian officials from prosecution over the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center.

Buenos Aires: An Argentine judge dismissed the case against President Cristina Kirchner for allegedly shielding Iranian officials from prosecution over the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center.

Prosecutors had sought to relaunch the case against Kirchner that was being brought by their late colleague Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously last month after accusing Kirchner of protecting Iranians suspected of ordering the attack which killed 85 people.

Judge Daniel Rafecas said the prosecution team that took over the file from Nisman had failed to provide sufficient evidence that Kirchner committed a crime, assailing their case in a 63-page ruling.

"I dismiss the case because no crime was committed," Rafecas said.

"It is clear that none of the alleged crimes presented by (lead prosecutor Gerardo) Pollicita in his petition to the court are demonstrated in the least."

Responding to the prosecution's allegations that Kirchner sought to have an Interpol wanted notice for the Iranian suspects annulled, Rafecas wrote: "The evidence gathered, far from supporting the prosecution's version, roundly refutes it."

Interpol's former director has denied that any such request was made.

Nisman was appointed a decade ago to reopen the investigation into the long-unsolved bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, which also left 300 people wounded.

He accused Iran of ordering the attack via Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a claim the government in Tehran denies.

He later concluded that a 2013 deal between Argentina and Iran for the suspects to be investigated by a joint commission was a conspiracy designed to ensure they would never be brought to justice.

Nisman was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head in his bathroom on January 18, four days after filing a report accusing Kirchner, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other figures close to the government of protecting high-ranking Iranian officials, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in exchange for oil and other trade benefits.

Nisman died on the eve of congressional hearings where he was due to present his findings.
Since his death, initially labeled a suicide, suspicion has fallen on Kirchner's government of orchestrating his murder.

The president has suggested the prosecutor was manipulated by disgruntled former intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her.