Fernandez Faces Trial On Charges Of Covering Up Iran's Role In Bombing
RFE/RL March 06, 2018
Former Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will face trial on charges she covered up Iran's role in a 1994 bombing at a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed dozens, judicial authorities said.
An Argentine judge in a ruling released on March 5 referred Fernandez and 11 senior members of her government to a higher court for public trial on charges of cover-up and abuse of power.
Judge Claudio Bonadio's ruling closes the investigative phase of the case. A start date for the trial has not yet been set.
Four of the accused have been detained so far. In December, Bonadio asked lawmakers to remove Fernandez's immunity from prosecution, which she gained last year when she was sworn in as a senator.
Legislators have not acted on the judge's request. The immunity protects her from being arrested, but she can still be tried.
Fernandez, who was president from 2007 to 2015, denies any wrongdoing or involvement in any cover-up involving Argentina's worst terror attack.
The 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association Center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Iran denies any involvement.
Bonadio in his ruling said he supported claims made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who led the investigation into the bombing before his death in 2015.
Nisman charged that Iranian and Hizballah officials involved in the attack were given assurances that they would escape prosecution in Argentina as part of a deal Fernandez reached with Tehran in 2013 in exchange for favorable deals on oil.
Nisman was found dead in his apartment with a bullet wound in his right temple four days after first making the allegations against Fernandez. His case remains unsolved.
Last year, an investigation by Argentina's border police agency concluded that Nisman was murdered, contradicting earlier official findings that Nisman likely killed himself.
Fernandez, a left-leaning politician, blames the accusations against her on what she says is the bias of judges following the orders of her conservative successor, President Mauricio Macri.
She recently said she wanted to go on trial as soon as possible to prove the "arbitrariness of the accusation."
Fernandez has said her 2013 memorandum of understanding with Iran, which set up a joint "truth commission" to investigate the bombing, was needed to solve the bombing case.
The agreement was approved by Argentina's Congress, but Iran's parliament never approved the deal and no "truth commission" was ever set up.
With reporting by AP and AFP
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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