A citizen wears an Argentina flag during a peaceful demonstration honouring late Argentine state investigator Alberto Nisman outside the Argentina Embassy in Santiago.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite ongoing wrangling over the government’s alleged role in covering for the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of a local Jewish center, Argentina’s legislature has now approved a bill to compensate the victims of the attack.
The bill, which received unanimous approval from the Argentinean Senate earlier this month, was subsequently referred to parliament’s lower chamber, where it passed on Wednesday. It provides for a one-time compensation to the estates of the 85 people killed and to those who suffered serious wounds in the terrorist attack.
The compensation for the relatives of those killed in the 1994 bombing will be about $170,000 for each victim. For the hundreds whose wounds were “extremely grievous,” the reparation is reduced to 70 percent of that amount, and those with “grievous” wounds will receive 60% of that amount.
Parliament approved a similar measure in 2001, allowing for $40 million in payments to the victims of a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The decision to approve compensation comes amidst an ongoing controversy regarding Argentina’s investigation of the bombing, with critics alleging that the government has played an obstructionist role.
Last year an Argentine court struck down an agreement with Iran for the formation of a joint Truth Commission intended to investigate the bombing as unconstitutional. Many believe that the Iranians played a role in the bombing and Argentinean courts have previously called for the extradition of several Iranians suspected in the attack.
Alberto Nisman, the Jewish government prosecutor tasked with looking into the decades old bombing, was found dead in his apartment earlier this year, only hours before he was due to testify to Congress regarding allegations that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had attempted to interfere with his investigation.
Nisman’s case was soon dropped while the Jewish journalist who broke the news of his death, subsequently fled to Israel because he believed his life was in danger and that his phones were being tapped.
“I’m going to come back to this country when my sources tell me the conditions have changed. I don’t think that will be during this government,” Damian Pachter told a local media outlet in February.
In early April prosecutors again attempted to bring charges against de Kirchner.
In a post on her blog a week ago, the president blamed “a global modus operandi, which not only severely injures national sovereignty by interfering and coercing the functioning of the various powers of states, but also generates international political operations of any type, shape and color” for her problems. In the long and rambling post, de Kirchner referenced a number of Jews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC, the American pro-Israel lobbying group.
On the same day that the legislature passed its compensation bill, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, resigned his AMIA membership, accusing the Jewish organization of “obstructionist actions” due to its opposition to the Truth Commission.
“We regret that having expressed a position contrary to that of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Republic of Iran we have become the target of such serious and insulting accusations from you. Those reactions only come to show the complete lack of respect for dissent and the impossibility of accepting different positions,” AMIA replied in a letter quoted by MercoPress.Reuters contributed to this report.