buenos aires bombing.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Just weeks before the 15th anniversary of the bombing at AMIA, the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, the city's Mayor Mauricio Macri has appointed a police chief who has been investigated for allegedly concealing evidence in the investigation of the bombing.
According to Argentinean news sources, the appointment of Jorge Palacios on July 3 to the new post of Metropolitan Police commander has riled up the Argentinean Jewish community because the investigations connected to the 1994 bombing have not been finalized.
Palacios was also fired from the federal police because he was linked to the 2004 kidnapping and murder of Axel Blumberg, the son of a local businessman.
Angel Schindel, vice-president of the DAIA Jewish organization, told the Buenos Aires Herald that the city government has not "considered the controversy this appointment could cause in the most sensitive sectors."
He believed that it would have been "cautious" to wait for the court to decide whether to charge Palacios before giving him the new position.
AMIA's General Secretary Julio Schlosser agreed with Schindel, telling the Herald that it would have been better to "postpone [Palacio's] appointment until a definitive ruling by the judiciary."
Sergio Widder, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's director of Latin American affairs, issued a letter to Justice and Security Minister Guillermo Montenegro urging the government to reconsider the appointment.
"To appoint someone like Palacios as the first chief of the new Metropolitan Police shows not only a lack of respect for the memory of the victims of the AMIA bombing, but also sends a message of impunity for the members of the force. They are basically being told that going against the rule of law and proper procedures can be a passport to leadership in the force," Widder said in a statement.
Alberto Nisman, the main AMIA case prosecutor, told the Herald there are "enough elements in the trial" to indict Palacios. According to him, the allegations were "well received by the judiciary and the judge."
Nisman was not reachable for further comment.
The AMIA bombing took place on July 18, 1994 in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and over 300 were injured, according to the center's Web site.
AMIA is one of the largest Jewish institutions in Argentina. Though the perpetrators have not been identified, recent investigations have linked the attack to local terrorist organizations and the Iranian government.
Montenegro told the Telam news agency that Palacios "is a person of absolute trust of the Mayor's and he is even reliable in personal matters. Palacios is an excellent former police officer."
The position of Metropolitan Police is a newly-formed position and Palacios' appointment has been defended by Montenegro and Macri.