Argentinian judge denies request to reopen Nisman complaint against ex-president

Argentinian President to speak to Jewish leaders in Buenos Aires, discuss investigation into 1994 bombing of city's AMIA Jewish center.

Alberto Nisman  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Alberto Nisman
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri is set to deliver a keynote speech at a gathering of Jewish leaders in Buenos Aires on Tuesday convened to discuss his country’s unresolved investigation into a 1994 bombing of the capital’s AMIA Jewish center.
Macri’s speech to the Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress will take place only a day after a local federal judge rejected a request to reopen an investigation into allegations by the late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman that the former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her government covered up Iran’s role in the bombing of the site.
Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas on Feb. 10 turned down the request made in December by prosecutors to reconsider the complaint filed by Nisman four days before his still-unexplained death, which occurred on the day that he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that Kirchner obfuscated Iran’s role in the attack, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.
Alberto Nisman, the Jewish government prosecutor tasked with looking into the decades old bombing, was found dead in his apartment early last 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.
Prosecutor Raul Plee had asked the judge to review new information collected during a case dealing with the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Iran to co-investigate the bombing, with an eye toward reviving Nisman’s complaint. Iran has been accused of being behind the bombing.
Macri’s government voided the pact in December, days after it was sworn in, garnering plaudits from Jewish groups and Israel.
Plee wrote in his December request to reopen the complaint that during hearings on the unconstitutionality of the pact with Iran, the Foreign Ministry presented “secret and confidential” documents that could be considered useful to reactivate Nisman’s accusation against Kirchner, her Jewish former foreign minister Hector Timerman, and others.
Rafecas ruled late last week that no new evidence has come to light and that the case is already closed due to the absence of a proven criminal offense. He also wrote that the accusation had already been rejected by the First Division of the Federal Criminal Appeals Court and that the prosecutor before the Federal Cassation Court, Javier de Luca, also dismissed the case.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Nisman’s death could take new turn at the end of the week. On March 18, the Buenos Aires City Appeals Court will hold a public hearing with all parties involved to decide if the investigation into Nisman’s death will be sent to a federal court. Murder cases are handled by the federal courts.
At the end of February, prosecutor Ricardo Sáenz called for a federal investigation of the Nisman case.
Saenz, the attorney general for Argentina’s Criminal Appeals Court, said that a federal magistrate “has the broadest jurisdiction to clarify which of all the assumptions” involving Nisman’s death is the truth. Some have called his death a homicide, while others believe that the prosecutor took his own life.
Tuesday’s session of the WJC’s highest decision-making body is intended for a discussion of “unresolved terrorist attacks,” the group announced.
“We will make it clear that it’s not acceptable that today, more than two decades after the worst terrorist attacks against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the AMIA Jewish center, justice has yet to be done,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder.
“We welcome President Macri’s decision to cancel the memorandum of understanding with Iran regarding the AMIA bombing probe and we hope that he will work diligently to ensure that no stone is left unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
Last April, despite ongoing wrangling over the government’s alleged role in covering up for the perpetrators of the bombing, Argentina’s legislature approved a bill to compensate the victims of the 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.
In a post on her blog last year, then-president Kirchner 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, Kirchner referenced a number of Jews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC, the American pro-Israel lobbying group.