Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio today upheld a request from family members of victims of the 1994 Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center bombing to be appointed as plaintiffs in a case investigating former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman for treason.
It’s necessary to clarify this is not the case opened by the late Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, which investigated whether Cristina and Timerman covered up the role Iran could have played in the AMIA bombing. Instead, it’s one that was opened after Clarín journalist Daniel Santoro revealed in his book Nisman debe morir (“Nisman Must Die”) the existence of an audio message in which Timerman can allegedly be heard telling AMIA officials that Iran was responsible for the attack.
Both cases obviously overlap and that’s why, according to La Nación, the new plaintiffs intend to have them both combined in one big investigation to try to prove their theory, which posits Iran was behind the bombing. In fact, the president of the Delegation of Israeli Associations (DAIA), Ariel Cohen Sabban, today also officially requested Judge Rafecas de-archive the case, but it hasn’t transpired whether he presented new evidence. Rafecas has yet to issue a ruling on this request.
Just like with Nisman’s accusation, the case had been archived by Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas in 2015. However, Luis Czyzewski and Mario Averbuch, the fathers of two women killed in the attack, managed to get Judge Bonadio to re-open this investigation after presenting new relevant evidence: an article published by Clarín claiming that Timerman didn’t go to the Foreign Ministry’s legal department to draft the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding with Iran but instead worked with Juan Martín Mena, the Deputy Director of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) back then.
“There’s an article published by Clarín in March this year that includes a note from Susana Ruiz Cerruti, the Foreign Ministry’s specialist in international law. She is perhaps the most qualified official to draft the memorandum, but her note says neither she nor her legal team intervened in its creation process,” said the plaintiffs in their request.
Just in case you forgot what the Nisman case and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) are all about, here’s a brief explanation: In 2013 Argentina and Iran signed this MOU to conduct a bilateral joint investigation into the bombing. The memorandum was controversial since its conception because only translating the case’s over 100,000 files would have taken years.
The judiciary finally declared the memorandum unconstitutional (not without sparring with the Kirchner administration first) and, shortly after taking office, the Macri administration put it to bed for good by announcing it wouldn’t appeal the decision. So, how are they linked? The memorandum was actually one of the main reasons behind Nisman’s accusation against Cristina and company, as he considered it an attempt to cover up Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing.
Nisman believed the former Argentine President had hopes of repairing trade relations with Iran in order to import Iranian oil, and for this reason swept evidence under the rug. However, he was found dead in his apartment with a single gunshot to the head hours before he was set to appear before Congress to back up his claims. It’s still unknown whether this was a suicide or homicide.