Argentine Jews call rally for `truth, justice` over 1994 bombing

Argentina`s Jewish community called for "truth and justice" on Wednesday, convening a demonstration at the site of a 1994 bombing in the wake of the suspicious death of the prosecutor investigating the attack.

AFP| Last Updated: Jan 22, 2015, 03:21 AM IST

Buenos Aires: Argentina`s Jewish community called for "truth and justice" on Wednesday, convening a demonstration at the site of a 1994 bombing in the wake of the suspicious death of the prosecutor investigating the attack.

Alberto Nisman was found dead of a gunshot to the head in his home on Sunday, the day before he was to go before a congressional hearing to accuse President Cristina Kirchner of a cover-up.

Investigators have said the prosecutor`s death appeared to be a suicide, but no gunpowder residue was detected on his hands -- and foul play, including an "induced suicide" or "homicide," has not been ruled out. 

A judge, meanwhile, released the 280-page complaint Nisman had filed before his death charging that Kirchner had issued an "express directive" to shield a group of Iranian suspects in the 1994 Jewish community center bombing.

A van loaded with explosives destroyed the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, or AMIA, killing 84 people and injuring more than 300 in Argentina`s worst ever attack.

Nisman contended that the government had agreed to swap grain for oil with Iran in exchange for withdrawing "red notices" to Interpol seeking the arrests of the former and current Iranian officials accused in the case.

"The plan arranged by Cristina Fernandez (de Kirchner) included the cessation of red notices to Interpol -- a plan unexpectedly frustrated by the strong action of Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble," the complaint said.Noble, a former head of the international police agency, said Nisman`s charge was "false" and that Argentine officials had never made a request to remove the red notices.

"The complaint is flimsy and makes no sense," declared a top Kirchner aide, Anibal Fernandez. "There is nothing there."

Since 2006, Argentine courts have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi and Mohsen Rabbani, Iran`s former cultural attache in Buenos Aires.

In 2013, Kirchner signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran agreeing to set up a "truth commission" to investigate the bombing and allowing Argentine prosecutors to question the suspects in Iran.

The rapprochement was vehemently opposed at the time by Jewish community leaders, who charged it was "unconstitutional."

Two groups representing Argentina`s Jewish community, the largest in Latin America, called the demonstration demanding "truth and justice" for 6:30 pm (2130 GMT).

Meanwhile, authorities ordered a second test for gunpowder on Nisman`s hands.

The situation "obliges the prosecutor to employ the greatest investigative force to rule out any hypothesis: suicide, induced suicide or homicide," said Security Secretary Sergio Berni. 

The prosecutor was found dead by his mother in the bathroom of his 13th floor apartment in Buenos Aires` upscale Puerto Madero neighborhood. A .22-caliber revolver was found beside his body.

Investigators have questioned a colleague of Nisman, Diego Lagomarsino, who said he brought the prosecutor the handgun Saturday night at his request.

Nisman had been investigating the AMIA bombing since 2004, and recently had reported receiving death threats.