Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Timerman met with Jewish community members and family of the victims of the 1994 AMIA bombing yesterday in an effort to assuage doubts regarding the bilateral agreement signed on Sunday between Argentina and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The agreement, signed by Timerman and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, outlines the procedure by which six Iranian citizens will be interrogated for their alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Mutual Israeli Argentine Society (AMIA) which left 85 dead and 300 wounded.
Jewish community leaders such as Guillermo Borger of AMIA and Julio Schlosser of the Delegation of Israeli Argentine Associations (DAIA) as well as relatives of the victims had initially rejected the agreement, citing concern that holding the interrogations in Tehran will delay the process and would constitute a “cession of sovereignty.”
Timerman took the time yesterday to meet with the concerned parties, as well as their lawyers, to discuss the process by which the Iranians implicated in the bombing will be questioned by Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, both Argentines. The interrogations will also be overseen by a Truth Commission consisting of five non-Argentine or Iranian legal figures, two chosen by each country and one agreed upon by both.
“The fact is that the Iranian suspects will be seated on the bench and will submit to the interrogation under the terms of Argentine law, before an Argentine judge and an Argentine prosecutor”, Timerman affirmed yesterday. “Whoever maintains that this is a cession of sovereignty is either acting in bad faith or is ignorant.”
After the meeting, Borger told Página/12 “the Minister was very well disposed to our concerns”.
Schlosser echoed these sentiments, stating that Timerman “explained to us that this Commission […] will not interfere with the actions of the Court, and that the intervening Court is Argentine, by way of the prosecution”.
The Jewish community leadership took the opportunity to express their desire to see Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón and Chilean jurist Claudio Grossman named to the Truth Commission. Garzón formerly served on Spain’s central criminal court and called for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 for the alleged torture and killing of Spanish citizens. He is currently heading WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team. Grossman is the current dean of the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington D.C., and was former president of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
Speaking of the meeting, Timerman said “It was very intense work with the families and the community leadership. I believe we cleared up a few key points”.
Timerman confirmed today that Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi is among the suspects and will be called to testify before the prosecution. He also denied rumours that a third party, such as Venezuela or Syria, was involved in the drafting of the agreement.
“We are trying to find a way to advance the cause, which has gone 19 years without being resolved”, the Minister said in a press conference. “We’ve made significant progress, where for the first time the Iranian suspects will be brought before an Argentine judge.”