Searching for truth in Argentina

Searching for truth in Argentina

Argentine Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita has decided to ask a judge to indict President Cristina Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timmerman, for conspiring with Iran’s government to cover-up the bombing of a Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 which killed 85 people, writes Dr Joseph S. Tulchin.

The prosecutor was appointed to continue an investigation started by Prosecutor Alberto Nisman who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in his apartment on January 18, 2015. The news led to tens of thousands of people flocking on to the streets on February 18, 2015, in a silent march to show solidarity with the prosecutors in anti-government protests.

Evidence supporting the accusations gathered by Mr Nisman before his death, and which Mr Pollicita has submitted formally to Judge Daniel Rafecas, is based mainly on telephone intercepts by the Argentine Intelligence Agency. These are conversations discussing a deal between people said to represent the president and the government of Iran. The link between the Jewish centre bombing and a bombing at the Israeli Embassy two years earlier in 1992 was established in the first investigation of the bombing in 1994.

America’s FBI provided information about a Hezbollah cell operating in Latin America and its links to Iran’s government. The FBI also found that members of this cell had used a rented van to carry the bombs and that they had contact with people in Buenos Aires, who had arranged the van rental.

The investigation came to a sudden halt in 1995 but not before the Argentine government of President Carlos Menem (1989-1999) had asked Interpol to issue arrest warrants for members of the government of Iran.

The current episode has raised a curtain on the dark underbelly of a corrupt government. The ongoing struggle with the hedge funds, known as holdouts, who want Argentina’s government to pay them for their bonds, claims to have found evidence for a civil suit in Nevada in the US that an individual, widely known as a bag man for President Kirchner, has been trying to launder very large amounts of money in American property.

There is darkness swirling around this episode and it provokes sadness among those who have hopes for a strong and democratic Argentina. There has been a deterioration of Argentina’s democratic institutions and a long history of conspiracies by the government against its own citizens. This stretches back to the era of President Juan Peron, first elected in 1946, when entrance visas for known Nazis were sold to enrich members of the Peron government.

These shadowy operations continue to this day and Argentina deserves better. An observer can only hope that the current investigation will reveal the truth about Mr Nisman’s death and the terrorist attacks of the 1990s. This is a severe test for the Argentine judiciary.

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