JBS spoke with B'nai B'rith International's Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs Adriana Camisar for its In the News program, spotlighting the 25th anniversary of the Israeli embassy bombing in Buenos Aires.
Host Teisha Bader interviews Camisar on the 1992 attack "as well as about the murder of Jewish special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, and the state of the Jewish community in Latin America."
Scroll down to watch the interview or click here to watch it on YouTube.
B'nai B'rith Special Advisor on Latin America Affairs Adriana Camisar wrote about how there is hope for Argentine Federal Prosecutor Alberto Nisman's complaint against former Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman to see the light of day.
Nisman charged that they secretly negotiated a pact with Iran in order to get impunity for the Iranians accused of plotting and executing the AMIA attack. Nisman's complaint will finally be investigated. He “mysteriously” died days after making extremely these serious allegations.
The blog was published by The Times of Israel. Click the button below to read it on their website or scroll down.
Camisar's blog was also published in Spanish by the Argentine news outlet El Tribuno. Click below to read the Spanish version.
Jan. 18 will mark the second anniversary of the “mysterious” death of Argentine Federal Prosecutor Alberto Nisman. For more than ten years, Nisman had been in charge of the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires.
He was found dead in his apartment four days after making extremely serious allegations against then President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and other people close to the government. Nisman stated he had extensive evidence that the government had secretly negotiated a pact with Iran in order to get impunity for the Iranians accused of plotting and executing the AMIA attack.
The pact the prosecutor was referring to—known as the Memorandum of Understanding—was signed in January 2013. Through this agreement, both governments pledged to create a "truth commission" to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing, something as absurd as creating a Nazi commission to investigate the Holocaust. At the time, the government justified the signing of this pact on the need to discover the truth. However, it seemed clear to most people who knew the case, that the signing of this pact represented a major shift in Argentina’s foreign policy, as it attempted to improve relations with Teheran at the expense of the bombing’s many victims.
The pact never came into force because the Iranian Parliament did not ratify it, and also because it was ultimately declared unconstitutional by an Argentine Federal Court. But it would have given the Iranians access to all the documentation of the case, and made it easier for them to get rid of the Interpol red alerts that Nisman had secured against the accused.
Nisman’s death left the country in shock and there are still no clear answers as to what exactly happened to him. However, there is now some hope that his complaint will finally be investigated.
Right after Nisman’s death, a brave prosecutor tried to get the courts to open a serious investigation into his allegations. But Daniel Rafecas, the judge assigned to the case, dismissed his complaint in a very expedited way and with questionable legal arguments. His ruling was appealed but the Federal Court quickly dismissed it as well. A federal prosecutor subsequently appealed this decision before the Court of Cassation—the last resort that the Argentine criminal system admits before resorting to the Supreme Court. But the prosecutor who needed to allow the case to get to the Court of Cassation failed to do it (probably because of his known ties with the former government) and therefore, all doors seemed to get closed and most Argentineans believed that a proper investigation would never take place.
However, several things changed since then. On Dec. 10, 2016, Mauricio Macri took office as the new president of Argentina, and one of the first things he did was to let the pact with Iran die. He did this by not appealing the ruling that had declared it unconstitutional. Macri also said that he expected the judiciary to act with independence and to get to the truth.
Several months ago, the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA), which is the Jewish umbrella organization in Argentina, made a new presentation alleging that the case should be re-opened because of “newly found evidence,” and requested to be admitted as a plaintiff. The new pieces of evidence submitted were a recording that was found in which Timerman—in a conversation with the former head of the AMIA—conceded that he was negotiating with the ones that “placed the bomb,” and the ruling that declared that the pact with Iran was unconstitutional.
Rafecas, the original judge of the case dismissed the request and so did the Federal Court, but when the issue got to the Court of Cassation once again, they finally decided to re-open the investigation. The Court of Cassation accepted the DAIA as a plaintiff and ordered Rafecas and the other judges that had intervened to withdraw from the case.
For the first time in two years the possibility to get to the truth seems real. And, of course, this case could shed light on what really happened to Nisman, as his death is undoubtedly linked to his complaint.
It is still too early to know if the investigation will go as far as it needs to go, but the re-opening of the case is certainly a promising sign
by Adriana Camisar, B’nai B’rith International's Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs
After 19 years during which the perpetrators of the terror attack against the AMIA building in Buenos Aires have not been brought to justice, the Argentine government decided to quietly sign an agreement with Iran. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced the deal on her Twitter account, showing complete disrespect, not only to the victims of this brutal attack that killed 85 and injured hundreds, but also to all of Argentina.
The agreement provides for, among other things, the creation of a “Commission” composed of jurists of “recognized international legal prestige.” It also states that these “jurists” will have access to and review all the documentation of the case and issue “recommendations.” It is unclear what, if any, role will be played by the Argentine justice system, in particular, the prosecutor of the case, Alberto Nisman, who has spent years conducting the investigation.
Another unfortunate clause of this agreement states that members of the commission and of the Argentine and Iranian judiciary will interrogate the suspects in Teheran. This is unacceptable.
The Argentine government would have us believe that this agreement represents a step forward in the struggle to achieve justice in the case, but in actuality, it is an insult to the intelligence of all Argentinians.
The Iranian regime has refused to cooperate with the Argentine justice system for many years – and not because of lack of trust. It has not cooperated because there is has never intended to bring to justice the main suspects, some of whom are currently part of the establishment in Iran (as is the case of current Iranian defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi). It is worse than naive to think that they will now cooperate with this commission of “independent” jurists.
Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism and one of the worst human rights violators on the planet. Unfortunately, the Argentine government has made a pact with the devil and the only result that can be expected from this shameful agreement is that the progress made in the last few years will be reversed.
The President, on her Twitter account, called this agreement “historic” and said she will never allow “the AMIA tragedy to be used as a chess piece on the chessboard of the geopolitical interests of others.” What she apparently wanted to say was that the AMIA case should not be politicized, but this is exactly what the agreement is doing.
The government is clearly seeking to upgrade its relations with Tehran at the expense of the victims of this terrible attack. But the reasons as to why are not entirely clear. Some believe that there are commercial interests involved. Others cite the government’s need to get even closer to Hugo Chavez, Iran’s main ally in the region. What is clear, however, is that in signing this agreement Argentina has positioned itself – in geopolitical terms – as a supporter of a fascist theocracy, and an opponent of the standards of the most advanced Western democracies.
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