La Nacion: AMIA: pushing for trial in abstentia for Iranian suspects

By Martin Dinatale, 7 January 2016

In a new twist from Mauricio Macri in connection with the AMIA case, the government yesterday gave new signs of moving toward a bill that promotes a trial in absentia for Iranians accused of the terrorist attack on the AMIA in 1994. The venue chosen to show that predisposition was a meeting that Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra had with the authorities of the DAIA, headed by Ariel Cohen Sabban.

According to what LA NACION learned from sources at the Casa Rosada and the DAIA, the meeting with Malcorra made it clear that the government sees the idea of moving towards the adoption of a draft law establishing the scheme for trial in absentia for eight Iranians accused of perpetrating the attack against the AMIA as “positive”.

This legal tool is questioned by some jurists, as it does not allow a defense of the accused nor can they defend themselves in an eventual sentencing. However, Justice Minister Germán Garavano had already made firm signals of endorsing trial in absentia, in the absence of answers from Iran on making the accused available to Argentina justice.

“We see that a new era between the Jewish community and national authorities has begun, with signs of good understanding and willingness to advance the AMIA case,” said Cohen Sabban to LA NACION, the end of the meeting

The decision of the Casa Rosada is the fourth gesture made by Macri to the Jewish community since coming to power. Before that, he definitively banished the controversial memo that Cristina Kirchner signed with Iran, upheld the red alerts from Interpol against Iranians involved in the attack and formed the new Secretariat of Investigation into the AMIA bombing, which he also have the power to investigate the case of the death of Alberto Nisman.

In the government they clarified that although the Foreign Ministry showed its willingness, the one that will carry forward the proposed trial in absentia is the Ministry of Justice. Garavano was ready to move forward with a bill of trial in absentia against the Iranians accused in the AMIA bombing, which could lead to another trial, but in a third country, according to what has been learned.

The Foreign Minister yesterday would not give details of this issue after the meeting with the DAIA, which was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Foradori; vice president of the Jewish entity, Alberto Hammerschlag; Secretary of International Relations, Leonardo Chullmir, and the executive director of the DAIA, Victor Garelik.

In Congress there are several projects already filed to promote a trial in absentia. One is from the DAIA itself and one from former Deputy and current director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Laura Alonso. Garavano let it be known in recent days that the government would push its own bill in Congress in March and that the text can be adjusted for changes and adjustments.

Iran’s embassy in Argentina avoided comment. The website Al-Monitor published ten days ago an extensive article datelined in Tehran, which reveals that, according to an Iranian source, the Rohani regime had fulfilled its obligations by ratifying the memorandum with Argentina in the cabinet of ministers of Iran and the National Security Council. But none of this officially had come out until now. However, until now there has only been a total lack of willingness from Tehran to cooperate with the Argentine judiciary.

The DAIA yesterday invited Malcorra and the entire government to join a candlelight rally on the 18th of this month in Plaza Alemania in Palermo, to commemorate the death of Nisman. “We will light a candle in the hope that there is clarity on how and under what circumstances the death of Nisman took place, understanding that the AMIA bombing is drenched in impunity,” said Cohen Sabban.

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