Iran summons Argentinians to stand trial

Teheran accuses former minister, judge, prosecutor, Jewish leader of fabricating '94 bombing scenario.

argentina 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
argentina 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran has summoned five Argentine nationals to appear in court over accusations by Teheran that they orchestrated a scenario to implicate Iran in the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina, state IRNA news agency said. The five include a former Argentine interior minister, a judge, a prosecutor, the head of the Jewish Community Center and a fifth man. IRNA, in a report carried on its English-language Web site, said the men have been "notified by the Argentine justice system to attend" a hearing in Teheran to "hear the charges against them." Teheran's summons are an apparent response to a move earlier this week when Interpol, acting on a request from Argentina, put five Iranians on its most-wanted list for the Jewish center bombing. No one has been brought to justice for the bombing at the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, when an explosives-laden van detonated on July 18, 1994, leveling the seven-story building, killing 85 people and wounding 200. IRNA cited Iranian Deputy Prosecutor General, Yadollah Alizadeh, as saying the five Argentines have been charged with making a case against Teheran and hiring individuals of "anti-government affiliations" to testify against Iran. Alizadeh said the five should report to the Teheran Justice Department, but gave no timing. If they fail to do so, Iran will demand Interpol issue international arrest warrants for them, he was quoted as saying. IRNA also said the five allegedly have "local connections among" the Buenos Aires provincial police, but did not elaborate. The five Argentines are: former Interior Minister Carlos Corach; president of the Jewish center Ruben Beraja; Judge Juan Jose Galeano; prosecutor Eamon Mullen and a fifth man, identified only as Jose Barbaccia. Teheran this week accused Interpol of succumbing to US and Israeli pressure to have Iran linked to the bombing when it put five Iranians - Iran's former intelligence chief, a former cultural attaché in Teheran's embassy in Argentina, a former Iranian diplomat, a former head of the elite paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, and a Guards general - on its most-wanted list. Interpol also named Hizbullah's Imad Moughnieh, one of the world's most sought terrorism suspects, among those wanted in the bombing. Interpol can not force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot for letting suspects move freely. Argentine prosecutors contend the center bombing plot was hatched at a 1993 meeting in Mashad, Iran, and the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hizbullah was entrusted with carrying it out. They say witness accounts, other testimony and telephone and travel documents prove the meeting occurred. Iran says it has evidence showing such a meeting never took place and pledged this week to defend the wanted Iranians, despite the Argentine arrest warrants. The dispute is steeped in geopolitical drama at a time of high tension between Iran and the West over Teheran's suspect nuclear program and US claims that Iran is supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan - claims that the Islamic Republic denies.