Argentina court reopens probe of ex-president in bomb case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2016 7:36 PM
Argentina court reopens probe of ex-president in bomb case

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An Argentine court on Thursday ordered a renewed investigation into a prosecutor's accusation that former President Cristina Fernandez covered up the alleged involvement of Iranians in a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center.

The bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Iran has denied any connection with the attack and declined to turn over suspects in the case.

Argentina's official Center of Judicial Information said the country's top criminal tribunal had accepted a request by a coalition of Jewish associations to re-examine the charge made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman on Jan. 14, 2015, against Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other officials in her government. He alleged Fernandez reached a secret deal with Iran's government to hide the role of several Iranian officials suspected in the bombing.

Nisman was found dead with a gunshot to the head four days later. Authorities never determined if he was killed or took his own life.

Fernandez, president in 2007-2015, has denied wrongdoing, and she ridiculed the charge Thursday.

"I am now accused of covering up the AMIA attack that took place ... 22 and a half years ago! The only thing they have failed to do is to accuse me of Kennedy's death," she tweeted.

The left-of-center Fernandez blames the accusation on what she says is the bias of judges following the orders of her conservative successor, President Mauricio Macri, who took office last December.

Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the Jewish coalition, praised the court's decision.

"A country that wants to reach justice is a country that must investigate, and if Nisman's accusation must be dismissed, we will accept it. But what we cannot do is dismiss an allegation with so much political potential without at least it being investigated," he told The Associated Press.

The ruling adds to legal complication for Fernandez.

On Tuesday, a federal judge approved charges of illicit association and fraudulent administration against her and two former aides: ex-Planning Minister Julio de Vido and former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez. They are accused of misusing public money by paying inflated prices for public works contracts.

Fernandez also denies wrongdoing in that case.