May 23, 2013
Iran accord cleared for vote after heated debate
As occurred last week in the Senate, the bill to ratify the accord with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 AMIA attack was yesterday debated and cleared to be voted on at a floor session today. The Lower House’s Constitutional Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees hearing was attended by lawmakers, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, AMIA and DAIA Jewish community grouping heads Guillermo Borger and Julio Schlosser and relatives of the victims’ association representatives.
After the prolonged debate, the bill was cleared to be voted with 59 signatures, with the majority of opposition deputies leaving before the session had ended.
The opposition vigorously questioned Timerman, who defended the agreement.
“The memorandum will unblock” the investigation and will allow for the indicted to testify “before and be interrogated by an Argentine judge,” Timerman insisted.
In a tense session, the first heated incident occurred when Radical caucus leader Ricardo Gil Lavedra argued the treaty would “put the judicial investigation at risk,” lead to Interpol’s Red Notice arrest warrants for the accused Iranian suspects “being lifted” and that these points “put into question the accord’s constitutional validity.” When Timerman asked what “bothered” the deputy, he retorted: “What bothers me is that we negotiate with murderers.” Gil Lavedra also asked the minister about a “U$S5.9 million nuclear reactor material” sale to Iran in 2008, to which Timerman replied: “Sometimes we make mistakes.”
Broad Progressive Front caucus leader Juan Carlos Zabalza questioned Timerman for saying legislators “fantasize” over alleged “secret clauses” with Iran, while PRO caucus leader Federico Pinedo caused a stir when he asked the foreign minister if it had been an “Iranian imposition to sign the accord on (International) Holocaust (Remembrance) Day.”
“I did not expect such a low blow from you, take back your statement... it is evident none of your people were killed in the Holocaust,” Timerman replied.
Civic Coalition leader Elisa Carrió asserted: “You have forsaken me, the Jewish people, the Argentine people; I would have resigned before signing this.”
Timerman provided the government’s response to each statement, though further support came with Victory Front majority leader Agustín Rossi claiming “this government set the course for the case first with former president Néstor Kirchner and ratified it with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.”
“It is not true that the entire Jewish community is against the accord,” he continued, adding that he had “not heard a single suggestion on what to do” by the opposition, just on “what not to do.”
Next to speak were Jewish community grouping leaders and relatives of the victims, with AMIA head Guillermo Borger saying “only because we seek justice do we reject this agreement,” and assuring that it would be a “step forward into an abyss” due to its “dilatory and ambiguous” nature. Grouping for the Clarification of the Unpunished AMIA Massacre (APEMIA) leader Laura Ginsberg launched the strongest attack on the Kirchnerite administration, which it accused of having covered up the “local connection.”
In another argument, FpV lawmaker Andrés Larroque allegedly called centre-right Deputy Laura Alonso a “tramp.” The comment infuriated Alonso who got up and told Larroque to say the insult again to her face “you coward.”
TIMERMAN ‘HELP’ DENIED
Sources at the Prosecutors’ Office yesterday refuted Timerman’s claim during the Lower House debate that he had provided lead Prosecutor Alberto Nisman with “a crucial piece of evidence in the attack’s investigation” in 2010. “Timerman was surely referring to an article in The New York Times that said it had been proven that four terrorists detained in 2007 accused of having planned an attack in the US had a prolonged relationship with (former Iranian Cultural Attaché in Argentina Moshen) Rabbani,” a suspect in the AMIA case, the source said.
— Herald with DyN, Telam, Ambito.com