Argentina FM to Israel: we won’t kidnap or bomb Iran suspects
Argentina’s top diplomat slammed Israel Wednesday for interfering in its judicial process over the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish charities building in Buenos Aires.
Last month, Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner announced an agreement with Iran to create an independent “truth commission” to investigate the bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA), and said it would clear the way for Iranian suspects to be questioned by an Argentine judge.
The move was blasted by Israel and members of Argentina’s 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.
“Israel has no right to ask for explanations. We are a sovereign state,” Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on the first day of testimony about the “truth commission” to his country’s Congress.
He added that cooperation with Iran would “bring them closer to the truth”, and in an apparent snide at Israel’s dubious history said that Argentina was not in the habit of carrying out extrajudicial punishment.
“Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told me that we cannot sign an agreement with Iran. So maybe he wants us to kidnap the suspects or put a bomb below the car of one of them.”
Timerman announced that suspects flagged by INTERPOL would be interrogated by Argentine judges, and under Argentine law.
There are five Iranians wanted by the international police group over the Argentina bombing, including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.
Iran has offered mixed responses to the revelation that top officials might be questioned, denying a report about it that had surfaced earlier this week.
However, on Wednesday, Timmerman told the Senate committee that “the Iranian foreign minister said he is going to implement all the points that were agreed on in our memorandum of understanding, and that the accused will be questioned.”
Argentine Jude Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the lead investigator, would go to Tehran to take the Iranians’ testimony.
Washington has cast doubt that any solution will emerge from the deal.
Israel has repeatedly accused Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the 1994 bombing, which killed 85 people and wounded 30, and another attack on the Israeli embassy in Beunos Aires two years before.
Hezbollah and Iran have repeatedly denied involvement in both.
On the 11th anniversary of the embassy bombing, Israel’s foreign ministry released a statement saying: “The mystery has been resolved, and it is now clear to Israel that Hezbollah, through its overseas agents under the command of Imad Moghniyeh, was the organization responsible for the deadly attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires,”
“Moreover, Israel has also been told recently that Hezbollah and Iran were involved in the July 1994 attack on the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA).”
A recently declassified communique from the US embassy in Beirut two months after the Buenos Aires reiterates the US’s intention to discredit Hezbollah.