Interpol: No warrant out for Vahidi

Iranian defense minister wanted by Argentina for allegedly masterminding '94 Jewish center bombing.

vahidi hard 248.88 (photo credit: )
vahidi hard 248.88
(photo credit: )
Interpol on Monday denied issuing an international arrest warrant for Iran's newly appointed minister of defense, Ahmed Vahidi, who is accused by Argentina of masterminding the 1994 terrorist attack on the Jewish AMIA center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds more. Vahidi was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, the organization said in a press release, adding that it would like to "set the record straight" in view of "misleading" press reports. "A Red Notice, or an international alert for a wanted person, is not an international arrest warrant. It is one of the ways in which Interpol informs its 187 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a national judicial authority, in this case Argentina," the statement said. "The Red Notice against Mr. Vahidi was published in November 2007 at the request of the authorities in Argentina, where he is wanted on the basis of his alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing," it added. "Interpol's role has been to notify the international law enforcement community that multiple arrest warrants were issued by an Argentinian judge, including one for Mr. Vahidi." Interpol said it "respects the sovereignty and independence of each of its 187 member countries, and any decision to arrest or not arrest a person who is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice is made by each individual member country." Earlier this month, Iran's parliament voted overwhelmingly to appoint Vahidi as defense minister. Vahidi described his appointment as a "decisive slap to Israel." Iranian spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi has denied any involvement by the Islamic Republic in the atrocity, saying, "Argentinean authorities may say whatever they want, but they have been incapable of presenting, in 15 years, a valid or convincing reason for linking Iran with the bombing against AMIA." Guillermo Borger, AMIA's current president, responded by saying that Iran should "say everything it has has to say before the Argentinean Justice [System]." Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker, who has served as a legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post that an international arrest warrant could be issued for Vahidi if Argentina or another country turned to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for assistance. "He has carried out a crime which could probably be defined as a crime against humanity," Baker said. "He took part in the murder of a large number of people. This has all the components of being a crime that is within the framework of the ICC. Argentina should ask the ICC to investigate." Alternatively, Baker said, the UN Security Council could initiate a claim against Vahidi. "It's very doubtful whether Israel can do it, because whatever Israel suggests in the UN is automatically doomed to failure. But Canada would be the best candidate, since the ICC president is a Canadian, and Canada was the leading country in pushing for the concept [of the ICC]," Baker said. On June 24, 2008 the European Union named Vahidi as "a person linked to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or Iran's development of nuclear weapon delivery systems." The EU called for member states to "freeze all funds and economic resources owned, held or controlled by the person," and said they "must also ensure that funds or economic resources are not made available to or for the benefit of the listed person." The EU also called on its member states to "prevent the person's entry into or transit through their territories."