May 20, 2013
Iran: no grilling of minister for AMIA attack
A statement made by an Iranian official yesterday directly rejecting Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman’s insistence that key figures in the current Iran administration would be involved in the bilateral truth commission into the 1994 AMIA attack provoked outrage from politicians and the Jewish community yesterday.
Timerman had previously stressed that he had “made sure” Iran’s Defence Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, allegedly one of the masterminds of the 1994 attack, “will have to be present when the judge questioned them (the six Iranian suspects) and he will be.” However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast yesterday denied Iranian officials would be questioned over the bombing.
“This report is a sheer lie,” said the spokesman yesterday. “It seems that those who are concerned by the actual agreement are spreading such reports.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi also skirted the issue of Vahidi, who has an international arrest warrant in his name. The minister said yesterday in a statement: “The two sides are committed to the agreement,” which would focus on “settlement of related problems. The agreement serves as basis for our entry to settlement of the AMIA case.” In the same article, published by the Iranian state news agency the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Salehi suggested that Israeli operatives had been behind the attack, allegedly with the intention of wielding influence over then-president Carlos Menem’s administration. Israel and world Jewish groups have denounced the pact, which is seen as running counter to US-led efforts to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants in 2007 for five Iranians and a Lebanese for the killing of 85 people in the Argentine Jewish centre (AMIA).
In a joint statement released yesterday, the presidents of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, and the Latin American Jewish Congress, Jack Terpins, urged Argentina not to ratify the deal with Iran. They said: “By not consenting to the interrogation of all suspects, Tehran once again made it clear that it is not interested in furthering the cause of justice but only in perverting it. We ask Argentina’s government and Congress not to ratify this ill-conceived agreement. Doing so would hand Iran a huge public relations victory.” Lauder and Terpins said the memorandum of understanding with Iran undermined the efforts of the Argentine judiciary.
The investigation had “clearly established that Iranian nationals conspired in masterminding the worst terrorist attack ever carried out in any South American nation. At the time Iranian leaders (including Vahidi), gave orders to kill as many civilians as possible.” The two Jewish leaders called the agreement with Iran “an affront to justice” and added: ‘The Iranian government cannot be considered a neutral interlocutor in this affair because its leaders are involved in terrorist activities themselves.
The World Jewish Congress and the Latin American Jewish Congress share the concerns of the Argentine Jewish community and its leaders. All along, they have rightly maintained that Iran cannot be trusted with respect to this case. We strongly urge President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her government to remain on the side of the victims of this crime and to pull back from an unjust understanding with those who perpetrated it.” —Herald with Reuters, IRNA, ISNA, AFP