Nothing new: Nisman's report fails to fan flames of conspiracy
There was a surprising revelation yesterday about late special prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s controversial judicial complaint — no intelligence agents were included among those accused of carrying out a plan to cover up the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre.
Following a request by Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, Intelligence Secretariat (SI, formerly known as SIDE) head Oscar Parrilli yesterday told the magistrate that neither former judge Héctor Luis Yrimia nor Ramón Allan Héctor Bogado — the ‘spy’ who allegedly had links with Kirchnerite youth organization La Cámpora — were part of the secretariat.
Minutes after receiving the confirmation, Lijo ordered to reveal the full complaint filed last week by Nisman — the prosecutor appointed in 2004 by late former president Néstor Kirchner to investigate the 1994 terrorist attack — be published. The complaint was quickly uploaded at the Supreme Court’s Centre for Judicial Information (CIJ) website.
Nisman returned to Buenos Aires last week from Europe, where he was on vacation with his 15-year-old daughter, to file a complaint before Lijo denouncing a plot to grant impunity to Iranian officials accused of having taken part in the terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community centre that killed 85 people in 1994. For Nisman, the “criminal plan” extended to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman.
The complaint revealed that Nisman based his 289-page writ on phone tapping of Jorge Khalil, who was reportedly the link with Tehran in Buenos Aires.
Early in the morning, Lijo requested Parrilli declassify all the information involving Bogado and Yrimia, a former judge and prosecutor, who worked for the SI — according to Nisman.
Parrilli, however, affirmed yesterday that none of them were intelligence agents. In fact, in September last year, the SI filed a complaint against Bogado before Judge Luis Rodríguez accusing him of influence peddling.
Sources close to Lijo told the Herald that they believed the complaint was still valid, although the links with state officials were unclear. The only person with ties to the national government who was recorded by the phone tapping was Luis D’Elía, a former Kirchnerite official who was forced to step down in 2006 after dismissing the line of investigation that indicated Iran was implicated in the attack.
“Luis D’Elía, a staunch supporter of the Iranian regime and an unconditional soldier for the president, was the chosen person to send and receive the clandestine messages to Iran,” Nisman wrote in his complaint.
“D’Elía is a trustworthy source to the powerful and also has lots of power,” the late special prosecutor added.
Nisman, a prosecutor with good ties with the US Embassy, had long tried to focus his inquiry on the Iranians, seemingly dismissing the clues that implicated Syria or that revealed a local connection. Nisman had the backing of the Kirchnerite administration at least until 2013.
The relation deteriorated when he requested Canicoba Corral declare unconstitutional the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 2013 in Ethiopia. The agreement was aimed at unlocking the investigation into the AMIA attack and to allow the judge and the prosecutor to travel to Tehran to question suspects.
No intelligence agents
On January 14, Nisman requested Lijo question Fernández de Kirchner, Timerman, D’Elía, La Cámpora lawmaker Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque, Fernando Esteche — the leader of the ultra-nationalistic organization Quebracho — Yrimia and Bogado as suspects of covering up the country’s worst ever terrorist attack.
Yrimia stepped down as a criminal judge in Buenos Aires City in 2004 as a result of a heated controversy with other judges of the jurisdiction. He was an expert in hostage cases and he was reportedly linked to Carlos Becerra, the head of intelligence during former president Fernando de la Rúa’s administration.
According to Nisman’s complaint, Yrimia contacted Jorge Khalil in November 2012, who was reportedly the link with Tehran in Buenos Aires. Nisman explained that Esteche was the link between the two.
Nisman also affirmed that Yrimia was working alongside the intelligence services in order to “rearrange the story” about the AMIA bombing. As the former judge had been one of the prosecutors investigating the 1994 attack, he could be useful to divert the line of investigation that implicated Iranian officials.
Nisman accused Yrimia of trying to fabricate a line of investigation that sought to involve former military officers and local “fascists” in the attack on the community centre located on Pasteur street. For the prosecutor, who was found shot dead in his Puerto Madero flat, if Yrimia’s alleged plan was successful, it could favour an agreement with Iran.
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Nisman believed the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Tehran in 2013 included lifting of the Interpol arrest warrants against five Iranian suspects. That allegation was dismissed days ago by the Kirchnerite administration but also by Ronald Noble, who headed Interpol between 2000 and 2014.
According to Nisman, Bogado had ties to La Cámpora — the group headed by the president’s son, Má-ximo Kirchner. He based those suspicions on two conversations he had with Khalil, in which he was heard saying that La Cámpora wanted to get closer to the Iranian Embassy.
No Pink House links
In November 2012, Khalil was recorded saying: “I have just met D’Elía and Larroque, the member of La Cámpora in La Matanza. They phoned me because they wanted to talk to me. They said they had a message from the government.”
Nisman also had a recording of D’Elía — a pro-Iran Kirchnerite activist who usually attends rallies at the Government House — stating: “I have an urgent message from the Argentine government. I am at Government House.”
Nisman had no records of Larroque talking to Khalil. According to him, Larroque was the link between the president and D’Elía.
According to Nisman, Timerman not only signed the Memorandum in 2013 but also two other “secret agreements.” The prosecutor also said that Timerman had told his Iranian counterpart Alí Akbar Salehi that “Argentina was no longer interested in solving the two attacks (the one against the AMIA centre and the 1992 attack against the Israeli Embassy)... They prefer to improve its economic relations with Iran.” No source was mentioned there.
As soon as Nisman filed his complaint before Lijo accusing the president of having ordered to reach to an agreement with Tehran to import oil and to boost grain exports, the Kirchnerite administration accused the prosecutor appointed by Néstor Kirchner in 2004 of lying.
On Monday, Lijo ordered to seize all the documents linked to Nisman’s complaint from his office located on Hipólito Yrigoyen street. He collected 19 discs containing 961 CDs with phone tapping records ordered by his colleague Canicoba Corral.
Canicoba Corral yesterday arrived at the courthouse located on Comodoro Py Avenue at noon and headed to the third floor. Sources close to Lijo dismissed a meeting between both of them.
Sources linked to Canicoba Corral, in fact, admitted that the judge supplied his colleague with the details he had asked about the phone tapping records ordered in 2007. Federal prosecutor Ramiro González asked the Attorney General’s Unit for the AMIA case investigation to send the transcripts of the records, which apparently were not there during the raid.
If the transcripts are not available, González will have to ask a security force to listen to the recordings that are in the 961 CDs.
González and Lijo want to gather all the evidence that reportedly sustains Nisman’s allegation before February. Next month, the prosecutor will have to tell Lijo if he believes the complaint can be included in the cover-up case that Lijo has been investigating. So far those charged by Nisman differ from the suspects in the probe — mostly Carlos Menem administration’s officials.
Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, who was in charge of the investigation into the AMIA bombing, ordered Khalil’s phone be tapped in 2007. Sources close to Canicoba Corral yesterday confirmed to the Herald that the magistrate had decided to lift the order to record Khalil’s conversations, considering that it was a “waste of time” since the Iranian official was aware his conversations were being recorded.