Argentina: judge orders arrest of former president

Argentine Judge Carlos BonadioĀ orderedĀ (PDF)Ā the arrest of current senator and former president Cristina Fernandez de KirchnerĀ on Dec. 7Ā for her possible involvement in a cover-up of Iran’sĀ participation in theĀ 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish centerĀ that left 85 people dead. Kirchner served as president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015 before being elected senator. During that time, Kirchner is alleged to have signed a deal with the Iranian government that would allow for Argentine magistrates to interview the officials suspected of ordering the attack in Tehran rather than in Buenos Aires, in an attempt to impede the investigation. For this, Kirchner faces a charge of treason. The crime of treason is punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison in Argentina.

However, as Kirchner is currently a senator, the Argentine Congress will have to vote to strip her of her parliamentary immunity before she can be taken into custody. In order for the vote to go through, a two-thirds majority is needed. Such a vote has not yet been scheduled.

Bonadio’s order also ordered the arrest of two of Kirchner’s allies: Carlos Zanni, a legal advisor to the former president, and Luis D’Elia,Ā leader of a political organization that was allied with Kirchner’s government. Additionally, Bonadio also ordered the house arrest of Hector Timerman, Kirchner’s former Foreign Minister. All three have been taken into custody.

The investigation into the bombing was reopened by Bonadio after special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who publicly claimed that Kirchner conducted negotiations with Iran in secret to cover up the involvement of Iranian officials in the bombing, was found deadĀ in January 2015, just five days after making the accusationsĀ and hours before he was scheduled to testify before Congress on his findings. Nisman was found in his Buenos Aries apartment with a .22 caliber pistol and a bullet casing next to his body. Although the preliminary investigation ruled the death a suicide, a later ArgentineĀ border police report stated that Nisman was attacked by two individuals who drugged him before killing him and staging the scene to make it appear as though he had killed himself.

Kirchner has responded to the order by calling it an outrageous judicial overreach.

Kirchner has faced numerous legal troubles since leaving office. In March, Bonadio orderedĀ Kirchner to stand trial in a multi-billion dollar fraud case. Kirchner was indictedĀ in December 2016 on allegations of corruption, in connection with the use of funds meant for public works. In February 2015, a judgeĀ dismissedĀ the original criminal allegations against Kirchner for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish center.

From Jurist, Dec. 8. Used with permission.

  1. Argentine court rules Nisman was murdered

    The special prosecutor who was found dead in 2015 while investigating the 1994 AMIA bombing was murdered, an Argentine federal judge ruled Dec. 26. Alberto Nisman’s death "could not have been a suicide," Judge Julian Ercolini wrote in his 656-page ruling. Ercolini's ruling also named one suspect in the death: Diego Lagomarsino, an IT employee in Nisman's office. In November special prosecutor Eduargo Taiano had requested a murder investigation in Nisman's death, after analyzing a report produced in September by forensic investigators from the country's border guard, or Gendarmerie. (ToI)

  2. Kirchner to stand trial in AMIA case

    Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ruled that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, along with 11 other officials and associates who have been indicted, will stand trial for allegedly covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center attack in exchange for trade deals. Kirchner was also ordered to stand trial in two separate cases— conspiracy in awarding public works contracts, and fraud in selling "dollar futrues" in apparent bid to inflate the peso. (MercoPress, The Bubble, Buenos Aires, March 5)

  3. Suspect in in Argentina terror case released

    Argentine opposition leader Carlos Zannini and community activist Luis D'Elia were freed from prison March 24, where they were detained over their suspected role in covering up a 1984 bombing at a Jewish center. However, both still face charges. A court will try ex-president Cristina Kirchner and around 20 others, including Zannini, D’Elia and former foreign minister Hector Timerman, at a date not yet set. (AFP)

  4. Argentina ex-president indicted on bribery charges

    Former Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was indicted Sept. 17 on charges of bribery in connection with construction companies receiving public works contracts. The allegations involve a complex network of politicians and businessmen said to have been involved in a bribery scheme during her two terms as president from 2007-15. This latest set of charges stem from a discovered notebook "in which a former chauffeur for a government official kept detailed notes of a system of bribe deliveries." (Jurist)

  5. Convictions in AMIA bombing cover-up

    A court in Argentina on Feb. 28 sentenced eight officials accused of a cover-up in the AMIA case, but acquitted five others, including the highest-profile defendant: former president Carlos Menem. Hugo Anzorreguy, the former intelligence chief, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. The former deputy intelligence secretary, Juan Carlos Anchezar, was sentenced to three years.

    Also sentenced was former judge Juan José Galeano, who was initially in charge of the investigation into the attack, who received a six-year term, found guilty of embezzlement and covering up evidence. Galeano said in his defense that the "investigation of the attack on the AMIA was victim of the internal struggles of the intelligence services."

    He was accused of paying $400,000 to Carlos Telledin, who supplemented his tradinn in stolen cars with work as a police informant. Prosecutors say Galeano paid him to implicate police in the bombing.

    The court also handed down a suspended two-year prison sentence to ex-prosecutors Eamon Mullen and José Barbaccia for failing to execute their duties as they related to the case. (NYT, Buenos Aires Times, Jewish Journal)

    Two days before the verdicts came down, the chief rabbi of Argentina was brutally assaulted by a gang who broke into his apartment. Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich was hospitalized with serious injuries, including nine broken ribs. “We know that you are the AMIA rabbi," the assailants reportedly shouted before assaulting Davidovich. (JTA)

  6. Arrests ordered in AMIA bombing

    Argentine Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas asked Interpol on June 15 to arrest four Lebanese men and have them extradited to stand trial for their involvement in the deadly bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society in July 1994. According to local news, one of the suspects, Jose El Reda, has another arrest warrant fromĀ Argentine authorities in conncection with a 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy. All four are said to be associated with Hezbollah. (Jurist, InfoBae)