CommentarySunday, May 31, 2009
Better late than never
By Michael Soltys, Buenos Aires Herald Senior Editor.
In re-opening the case of the international terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre nearly 15 years after that 85-death bomb massacre, the Supreme Court has taken the only decision possible to prevent a mockery being made of justice. Impunity in the abstract is bad enough but always reversible with a change of attitude - the most alarming aspect of the AMIA mistrial was that it presented a mechanism whereby impunity could be extended indefinitely.
The mere fact that Carlos Telleldín (the car-dealer suspected of having supplied the vehicle for the bomb) was found to have been bribed by ex-judge Juan José Galeano to testify against Buenos Aires provincial policemen also implicated in the "local connection" of the attack was seen as sufficient grounds to acquit everybody on the grounds of mistrial. On this basis procedural sabotage could be used to acquit the blackest of criminals. But the Supreme Court has wisely ruled that Galeano's misconduct cannot be made retroactive to invalidate the prior proceedings nor wipe out the evidence against Telleldín and others (including the three million dollars in Juan José Ribelli‘s bank account which the ex-inspector was never able to explain). Even if only five percent of the documentation thus regains validity, it is enough to revive the case.
The Supreme Court decision also shows a certain courage and independence since the AMIA case has become something of a political football. The main reason why the acquittal of Telleldín & Co. was greeted so enthusiastically in various political and intellectual circles which should have known better was the conviction that then President Carlos Menem had secretly masterminded the attack (although these theorists never explain why Menem should so gratuitously create such a massive problem for his "carnal relations" with the United States, the keystone of his foreign policy) and that such small fry as Telleldín and the ex-policemen were scapegoats standing in the way of true justice - various members of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration have voiced this theory.
This government has also refused to define the AMIA terrorist attack as a crime against humanity since this could be turned against various ex-Montonero members of the CFK administration linked to the terrorism of three decades ago, insisting that only state terrorism can be thus excluded from the statute of limitations (even if the allegations against Iran could place the AMIA attack in this category).
A chink in the armour of impunity, then, but a long way to go before justice is done.