Skip To Content
Breaking News

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez Cleared in Iran Terror Cover-Up

An Argentine judge on Thursday dismissed allegations against President Cristina Fernandez that she tried to cover up Iran’s purported involvement in a deadly bombing of a Jewish center in 1994.

The judge ruled he would “discontinue” the case, which was first brought by state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in January the day before he was to appear in Congress to discuss his criminal complaint.

The scandal plunged the president’s final year in office into turmoil and hurt the government’s credibility ahead of October’s presidential election.

The decision by judge Daniel Rafecas sparked divided opinions on whether the government had a hand in the ruling. About 400,000 Argentine marched last week to demand an independent judiciary.

The allegation that Fernandez sought to whitewash the investigation into the truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was first made by Nisman in mid-January.

Four days later he was found dead, spawning a torrent of conspiracy theories and raised long-festering questions about interference and intimidation in the justice system.

Thursday’s ruling will alleviate some of the political pressure on Fernandez, whose popularity has been hurt.

“The judge’s decision certainly favors Fernandez, but it will probably not have an impact on the October elections,” said Ignacio Labaqui, who analyzes Argentina for Medley Global Advisors.

“The damage caused by the Nisman case is already there,” he added. “According to polls, the bulk of public opinion believes that Nisman’s accusation was true and that he was murdered.”

The case was picked up by another prosecutor, Gerardo Pollicita, earlier this month.

“The judge held that the … complaint was not strong enough to initiate criminal proceedings because it did not support the alleged cover-up or obstruction of the investigation” into the AMIA bombing, said a statement from the judiciary branch’s CIJ information service.

Pollicita’s office said no decision had yet been made on whether to appeal.

Fernandez called Nisman’s cover-up claims “absurd” and said he had been duped into making them by rogue security agents. She said she believed the agents then killed Nisman after using him to smear her. Iran has consistently denied the allegations.

Nisman’s body was found in his apartment, a bullet in his head, a day before he was to detail his evidence against Fernandez and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman. Rafecas also threw out the case against Timerman.

On Buenos Aires’s leafy boulevards on Thursday, opinion was split over whether the judge had come under pressure to sling out the case.

“The judge must be pretty sure that there is not enough incriminatory evidence to throw this out. It has been such an important case for the country,” said telecoms worker Edith Gallante.

But 26-year-old kiosk owner Leonardo Venega said: “I think the government had a hand in this, as always. The judge should not have thrown this out.”

Congress gave final approval to a bill on Thursday creating a new spy agency that will incorporate personnel from the soon-to-be dismantled Intelligence Secretariat, whose reputation had been pummeled by the Nisman scandal. The government says the Federal Intelligence Agency will include tighter oversight.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.