Judges keep CFK treason case alive
The treason case against former Foreign minister Héctor Timerman and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, concerning the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Iran, will continue, after an appeals court yesterday sided with Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio and denied a dismissal of charges request from his lawyers, who argued that their client was facing “double jeopardy.”
Timerman was named in the complaint filed by late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman which alleged that Timerman, Fernández de Kirchner, Kirchnerite lawmaker Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque and political activists Luis D’Elía and Fernando Esteche had conducted secret negotiations and agreed to cover up Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.
Central to that accusation was the MOU. That case, and an attempt to re-open it, were dismissed twice by Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas and an appeals court on the grounds that there was no evidence of a crime and that the complaint showed several contradictions and irregularities. Yesterday, Prosecutor Germán Moldes appealed the decision by a separate Appeals court to not re-open the case.
Backing from the Appeals Court
Judges Martín Irurzun and E-duardo Farah yesterday ruled that the decision taken by Bonadio to not close his investigation into Timerman was appropriate, citing the gathering of new evidence by Bonadio and the early dismissal of the Nisman complaint.
The case has moved forward partially on the basis of a wiretap in which Timerman can be heard in a 2012 phone conversation with an AMIA official saying that he felt that the attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre had been orchestrated by Iran. The recordings were released in late 2015, after the Nisman complaint had made it through the court system and in late September they were dismissed by Judges Eduardo Freiler and Jorge Ballestero on the grounds that they were of dubious origin and simply stated the Argentine position concerning who was considered responsible for the bombing.
Bonadio has also summoned former Foreign ministers and diplomatic officials for testimony and has rejected requests from Timerman’s lawyers to close the case.
Irurzun recalled once again that “the dismissal and closing of cases are not definitive because they can be reopened — such as in this case — when there are elements or allegations that were not previously considered.” Noting that he had made this kind of statement before with regard to elements in the case previously, he added that “now there are more (elements) and of a different nature,” including the results of testimony given by former Foreign ministers Jorge Taiana and Rafael Bielsa, diplomatic officials Susana M. Ruíz Cerutti and Roberto García Moritán, as well as with journalists. García Moritán is understood to have told Bonadio that the MOU was designed to allow for impunity.
Bonadio has accepted that Luis Czyzewski and Mario Averbuch, fathers to two of the AMIA victims, be considered as plaintiffs in the case. As plaintiffs they have access to the investigation and can request measures be taken by the judge. In their request to Bonadio, lawyers for Czyzewski and Averbuch asked for the late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s complaint against the Fernández de Kirchner to be fully taken into consideration.
Concerning the problem of double jeopardy, Farah wrote that “it is up for debate — intensely and with varied arguments — about from which point on a person is exposed to the situation in which an investigation is opened and work is carried out to corroborate or not a hypothesis for an accusation. But here the matter is more simple. The complaint carried out by Prosecutor Nisman was dismissed ab initio, without any evidence measures being considered. Evidently, in such a scenario, there was no previous criminal investigation of Timerman nor even the risk of having to face an accusation and much less a conviction. The investigation request made by that prosecutor was ignored, in a decision that at the time I did not hesitate to consider illegal.”
In the decision issues yesterday both Irurzun and Farah said that Rafecas and Bonadio could settle the ongoing question over who should lead the case given the obvious links. Defence lawyers for Timerman had argued that no two judges should both rule on the same set of events, recalling language in the appeals court ruling that confirmed Rafecas’ decision not to open the Nisman complaint.
In keeping with his promise, Moldes yesterday filed an appeal with the Criminal Cassation Court against the decision by Freiler and Ballestero to confirm Rafecas’ decision not to re-open the Nisman investigation, arguing that the complaint had cost him his life.
Nisman was found dead on January 18, 2015, four days after he filed the complaint, and the courts have yet to rule whether his death was a homicide or a suicide.
Moldes, who has often criticized his colleagues in the court system, yesterday wrote that “one more time the concerted action by a judge in a lower court (Daniel Rafecas) and appeals court judges (Jorge Ballestero and Eduardo Freiler) have undermined a request for investigation filed by the prosecution (now also supported by the would-be plaintiffs) over one of the most serious events in recent Argentine history.”
Herald with DyN, Télam