Unidentified Argentine judicial sources reported on March 30 that federal judge Ariel Lijo has ordered former president Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999) to stand trial on charges that during his presidency he impeded the initial investigation into a July 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires. The judge in charge of the original investigation, Juan José Galeano, is also to stand trial, along with former intelligence service directors Hugo Anzorreguy and Juan Carlos Anchezar, and two commanders of the federal police.
The bombing, generally considered the worst anti-Semitic violence since World War II, killed at least 85 people and injured 300; Argentine prosecutors accuse the Iranian government of planning the attack and the Lebanese organization Hezbollah of carrying it out. Many Argentines suspected that Menem, a strong proponent of neoliberal economic measures and a favorite of the US government at the time, had interfered in the investigation to protect family friends, the late Syrian-Argentine business owner Alberto Kanoore Edul and his son, Alberto Jacinto Kanoore Edul. Alberto Jacinto is said to be linked to Mohsen Rabbani, a former cultural attaché to Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires who is suspected of masterminding the AMIA bombing.
Menem is now a senator for La Rioja province, and even if convicted he won’t face a prison sentence unless he is impeached by the Senate. (InfoBAE, Argentina, March 30; Página 12, Argentina, March 31; BBC News, April 2) (Last September, Menem was acquitted in a corruption trial stemming from the illegal sale of weapons to Croatia and Ecuador when he was president; there were suspicions of political interference in that trial.)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 8.
See our last post on Argentina.