Monday, January 19, 2015

19-Jan-15: Prosecutor who accused government officials of covering up terrorist massacre by Iran/Hezbollah is found dead

Families of victims of the 1994 Jewish community center
bombing mark anniversary in 2006 [Image Source]
An almost forgotten terrorist murder-by-bombing of innocent people in a Jewish community center building in the capital of Argentina is in the news again today 21 years later:
The AMIA bombing was an attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building. It occurred in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was Argentina's deadliest bombing ever. Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, the largest in Latin America and sixth in the world outside Israel. Over the years, the case has been marked by incompetence and accusations of cover-ups. [Wikipedia]
  • September 2004: All the local suspects, many of them officers of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, were charged and then acquitted in September 2004. 
  • July 2005, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known today as Pope Francis, became a signatory on a petition calling for justice in the AMIA bombing case. 
  • August 2005: The judge in charge of the case, Juan José Galeano, was impeached and removed from his post on charges of "serious" irregularities due to mishandling of the investigation.
  • October 2006: The prosecutors appointed to the case, Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos, formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and Hezbollah of executing it. 
The Buenos Aires Jewish community center
after the explosion [Image Source]
This morning, it's reported in the Buenos Aires Herald that Alberto Nisman, one of those two prosecutors, was found dead in a pool of blood in his Buenos Aires apartment last night:
Nisman, who was expected to take part in a closed-door hearing in Congress on Monday to reveal the details of explosive allegations that involved President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, was found minutes before midnight... In January 2015, [he] filed a 300-page complaint accusing [Kirchner and Timerman] among other pro-government political figures of "covering up" Iranian citizens allegedly involved in the 1994 attack. Nisman said his accusations were based on phone taps on close political allies of Fernández, who he said conspired in a "sophisticated criminal plan" [in which] Iranian oil would be exchanged for Argentinian grain, while Argentina would cancel an international Interpol arrest warrant against... senior Iranian officials... He had revealed to some members of the opposition that he was ready to appear at the congressional hearing with more documents to back his allegations. Nisman had accused Fernández de Kirchner of ordering impunity for the Iranian suspects in the 1994 AMIA attack in order to boost trade with Tehran. According to Nisman, Argentina wanted to import oil and export grains Iran. Government allies had been pushing for today’s congressional hearing to be open to the public. [Buenos Aires Herald, January 19, 2015]
He was due to testify this morning. They are saying it was suicide, but we hear from Argentina that no one takes that seriously. Seven years ago here in Israel he gave a revealing interview to a local reporter:
"I have no doubt that the most senior Iranian leadership, with the help of Hezbollah, is responsible for the attacks in Buenos Aires against AMIA [the community center in 1994] and the Israeli Embassy [in 1992]," Nisman said Tuesday night at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. While investigating the two attacks, Nisman found the necessary legal evidence pointing directly to former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and his chief of intelligence, Ali Falahian, for their role in the decision to target the community center... Nisman was appointed to head the investigation after it emerged in an Argentine court that the previous investigating judge, Jose Galiano, had paid some $400,000 to a key witness in the case to incriminate former policemen, while diverting blame from Iran and Hezbollah..." [Haaretz, December 19, 2007]
The reporter who did the interview, Yossi Melman, tweeted this morning that "In my 2007 interview Nisman who committed "suicide" accused his country's top officials of corruption to shut him up ..."

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