Argentina, Iran in joint probe of AMIA bombing

Argentina signed an agreement with Iran on Jan. 27 to create an independent Commission of Truth to investigate the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center. Argentinian courts have accused Iran of sponsoring the attack, which killed 85 people, and in 2007 Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians, including current Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. Despite strong objections by Israel, the US and the Argentine Jewish community, Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi have been involved in a series of bilateral talks that began with their first meeting at the UN headquarters in New York in September.

At a meeting in Ethiopia during an African Union summit, the two foreign ministers culminated their talks with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, which now needs to be ratified by the national parliament of each country. The agreement will create the independent truth commission, to be made up of five judges who are jointly nominated foreign legal experts having residency in neither Argentina nor Iran. The commission is to conduct an investigation and prepare a report with recommendations on how to proceed with the case based on the laws of each country and within the framework of international law.

As part of the compact Argentinian authorities will be permitted to question the Iranian suspects under Interpol arrest warrants, but only in Tehran. Iran rejected Argentina's proposal to put its accused citizens on trial in a neutral country in 2010. Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner hailed the agreement as an historic guarantee of due process. Argentina is home to Latin America's largest Jewish community.

From Jurist, Jan. 28. Used with permission.

Investigators have implicated Hezbollah in the bombing of the center, officially known as the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA). The case has been a focal point in Washington's concerns about Iran's growing presence in Latin America.