The victims get a chance of justice

By Shimon Samuels & Sergio Widder, June 4, 2009

The evidence has long implicated Iranian officials in the July 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded. In 2006, State Prosecutor Alberto Nisman indicted former Iranian President Rafsanjani, ex-Foreign Minister Velayati and seven other suspects.

The president of Argentina at the time, Nestor Kirchner, and his wife, current President Christina Kirchner, both denounced Iran for its role in the attack in separate addresses to the UN General Assembly, resisting pressure from Tehran’s Latin-American ally, Venezuela.

This political will allowed Nisman to freeze assets in Argentina owned by the accused and, a few days ago, to indict Colombian-born Samuel Salman El Reda — currently in Lebanon — as the local co-ordinator of the attack.

The initial investigation, led by Judge Juan Galeano, was widely held to be “lacking in objectivity”, and his parallel enquiry into a local police connection as full of irregularities. This week’s Supreme Court decision to re-open the file aims at rescuing those findings considered valid in the first investigation.

The court’s decision is a powerful political message that international terrorism on Argentine soil cannot go without punishment.

Justice for the victims, their families and Argentina’s good name will require bold steps. For the country’s Jews, Amia — the greatest pogrom in post-Inquisition Latin America — will remain indelible. For world Jewry, there is a historic twist. A country which gained notoriety as a safe haven for Nazi war criminals is leading efforts to resist Iranian-inspired terrorism in the Americas.

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010