Argentina moves decisively on AMIA case

Macri’s Justice Ministry drops MOU appeal, nullifying pact with Iran; New lead prosecutor for AMIA Unit to “revitalize” Nisman’s investigation; Nisman complaint against former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner re-opened

In its first week in office, the administration of President Mauricio Macri has moved quickly to change course on the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA with two key actions. First, the Justice Ministry, under instructions from the President, withdrew the Government’s appeal of a federal court decision that declared the Memorandum of Understanding with Iran unconstitutional. The end of the appeal will require a judicial resolution formalizing that the MOU is definitively nullified for “lacking the support of the Argentine State.” The action by the Justice Ministry was praised by DAIA President Julio Schlosser as “something long yearned for by the Jewish community and the entire Argentine community.”

The signing of the Iran MOU by the government of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was opposed by the DAIA and the AMIA, and challenged by the then-opposition parties. Macri promised to overturn it, and revive the investigation into the AMIA bombing – led since 2004 by prosecutor Alberto Nisman. The terrorist attack, which had produced indictments in Argentina and Interpol red notices against five former Iranian government officials, some of whom hold influential positions in Iran today. .

Nisman had vocally opposed the Iran MOU, believing it was not an attempt to find justice but to white wash Iran’s role in the AMIA bombing. He later filed a criminal complaint against the former President Fernandez de Kirchner and officials in her government alleging the pact with Iran was part of a plan to provide impunity to the suspects in exchange for upgraded trade relations.

Nisman was found dead in his apartment in Buenos Aires four days after he filed the complaint. Nisman’s independent AMIA Unit was subsequently taken over by Kirchner’s government, and the investigation into his death has long been stalled.

Clarin reports that Justice Minister Germán Garavano “plans to revitalize the AMIA Unit” and appointed former Senator Mario Cimadevilla from the Radical Civic Union party, allied with Macri, to take over the special prosecutor’s office in charge of the AMIA investigation. Garavano has indicated he wanted to work with prosecutor Viviana Fein on the stalled investigation into Nisman’s death. Today, Ms. Fein was relieved of her responsibilities.

After the Justice Ministry withdrew the appeal on the unconstitutionality of the Iran MOU, Raul Plee, the federal prosecutor before the Court of Cassation, filed a petition for that court to finalize the process that will nullify the agreement. Plee further asked the court to send the documentation on the case back to federal Judge Daniel Rafecas in order to consider reopening Nisman’s complaint against the former President and others.