Argentine judicial officials made public the 300-page criminal complaint that details evidence linking Argentina’s senior political echelon to a deal to hide Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
The complaint prepared by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was to be presented this week to Argentina’s congress, but Nisman was found dead in his home late Sunday with a gunshot wound to his head. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner initially called his death a suicide but backtracked Thursday following large protests and the widespread perception that Nisman was murdered.
Nisman’s criminal complaint, which is based on intelligence intercepts, accuses Kirchner of “deciding, negotiating and arranging the impunity of the Iranian fugitives in the AMIA case.” The president and Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, “took the criminal decision of inventing Iran’s innocence to satisfy commercial, political and geopolitical interests of the Argentine republic,” the complaint says.
The deal would have exonerated Iranian officials in their role in the bombing, which killed 85 people, in exchange for Iranian oil and weapons sales, according to the complaint. The secret deal, the complaint says, was negotiated two years before Iran and Argentina signed a public memorandum of understanding in 2013 to establish a joint investigation of the AMIA bombing – an agreement that critics derided as a farce and which later was derailed by Argentine courts.
In the decade Nisman spent pursuing the AMIA case, he uncovered evidence showing that Iran sponsored the bombing and had Hezbollah, its proxy militia in Lebanon, carry it out. Interpol, the international police agency, eventually issued arrest warrants for several Iranian officials in the case. The arrests have never been carried out.
Under the terms of the secret deal, the Interpol arrest warrants would have been canceled and culpability for the bombing would have been redirected toward “invented defendants,” the complaint says. But despite the efforts of Argentine officials, according to the complaint, Interpol refused to play ball and the arrest warrants stand.
Nisman sought to question Kirchner and others, including Timerman, who is a prominent member of Argentina’s Jewish community, on charges of obstruction of justice. He also planned to ask for up to $23 million worth of their assets to be frozen.
He alleged that Kirchner established a secret channel of communications with the Iranians to carry out her illegal plan to scuttle justice in the AMIA investigation. The channel allegedly included Argentina’s intelligence secretary and negotiations with one of the main defendants in the AMIA case, a former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina named Mohsen Rabbani.
Kirchner denies the allegations against her.
With Nisman’s death, it’s not clear what will happen with the criminal complaint or where the AMIA case itself stands.