Argentina Approves Joint Probe With Iran Into Jewish Center Bomb

Argentina’s lower house approved an agreement with Iran to set up a commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sent the accord to Congress for approval, saying that it will allow the country to question Iranians suspected of being involved in the organization of the terrorist attack. The Jewish community and opposition lawmakers rejected the agreement saying that it won’t help the investigation. The bill, passed by 131 votes to 113 early today, was approved by the Senate earlier this month.

“We need to make this step to move ahead to a trial,” Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said at a Feb. 26 hearing with lawmakers.

Since 2003, Fernandez and her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner have made calls at meetings of the United Nations for Iran to send suspects for trial in Argentina. Fernandez also offered to hold a trial in a third country.

The agreement signed on Jan. 27, envisages the creation of a five-member commission, two of them designated by each country, while the president will be agreed upon jointly.

The July 1994 blast, which killed 85 people, followed the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. Argentina has accused current and former Iranian officials, including Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, of involvement. Iran has rejected the accusations.

“The accord is ambiguous, incomplete, and confusing,” Guillermo Borger, president of the Argentine Jewish Mutual, told lawmakers on Feb. 26. “Approving this accord means becoming a partner of Iran and forgetting our 85 deaths.”

The commission will review documents supplied by both countries and be able to interrogate suspects in Iran, according to the agreement.

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