Argentina orders 8 Iranians arrested for Jewish center bomb
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine judge on Wednesday ordered the arrest of eight Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people, court documents said.
Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano asked Interpol to arrest the
eight - including Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador
to Argentina at the time of the car bomb attack - after seeking the capture and extradition of five other diplomats earlier this year.
The Iranian Embassy said in a statement, "Iran objects to and rejects these declarations and believes they result from international Zionism's plan to manipulate Argentina."
Israel and the United States have always said they suspected that Iranian-backed Middle Eastern guerrillas were behind the AMIA bombing. Iran has repeatedly denied any
"While this [international arrest warrant] is a very important step, Iran's refusal to cooperate with the investigation makes it very unlikely these officials will actually come here to testify," said Jose Hercman, head of
the Delegation of Israeli-Argentine Associations.
Galeano accused Iran of hindering the inquiry.
All eight officials were in Argentina when the explosion shook Buenos Aires, and Soleimanpour may now be living in Britain, court documents said.
Iran withdrew its ambassador from Argentina after being implicated by the Argentine government shortly after the bombing, but Tehran still retains a mission in Buenos
Last year The New York Times reported that Iran paid Argentina's then-President Carlos Menem a $10 million bribe to cover up the Iranian role in the bombing. Menem and Iran denied the allegation.
Menem's government at first blamed Iranian-backed Muslim extremists from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah for the bombing. But the Iran lead got lost in a slow investigation plagued by disappearing witnesses and unexplained delays.
In June, newly elected President Nestor Kirchner ordered the release of secret files of the intelligence services related to the bombing, which was hailed as a breakthrough in the case.
Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community is the biggest in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world. Two years before the AMIA attack, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29 people. http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/329518.html