argentina jewish center.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Argentine prosecutors on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order the arrest of former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center that killed scores of people.
Prosecutor Alberto Nisman told a news conference that the decision to attack the center "was undertaken in 1993 by the highest authorities of the then-government of Iran."
He said the actual attack was entrusted to the Lebanon-based group Hizbullah.
The worst terrorist attack ever on Argentine soil, the bombing of the Jewish cultural center killed 85 people and injured more than 200 others when an explosive-laden vehicle was driven near the building and detonated.
Iran's government has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack following repeated accusations by Jewish community and other leaders here.
Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral had no public comments following the news conference by Nisman and fellow prosecutor Marcelo Martinez Burgo. The judge, under Argentine law, is allowed an indefinite amount of time to accept or reject the recommendations.
The two prosecutors urged the judge to seek international and national arrest orders for Rafsanjani, who was Iran's president between 1989 and 1997.
They also were asking the judge to detain several other former Iranian officials, including a former intelligence chief, Ali Fallahijan, and former Foreign Minister Ali Ar Velayati.
They also said they were urging the judge to order the arrest of two former commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, two former Iranian diplomats and a former Hizbullah security chief for external affairs.
The prosecutors told the news conference they suspected that Hizbullah never undertook activities outside Lebanese territory "save under orders directly emanating from the regime in Teheran."
The two prosecutors head a special investigative unit probing the attack, which flattened the former Jewish center known as the AMIA, since rebuilt into a heavily guarded fortress-like compound.
The investigation unit was created after Argentina's federal courts in 2004 halted a botched investigation into the case by then-judge Juan Jose Galeano. Galeano was removed from the case and later stripped of his judgeship.
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