Argentina re-opens Amia bombing probe

By David Labi, Buenos Aires, June 4, 2009
The Amia community centre after being hit by a car bomb in 1994

The Amia community centre after being hit by a car bomb in 1994

The Argentinian Supreme Court has voted to re-open the investigation into the 1994 terrorist attack on the Amia Jewish community centre.
Though the car-bomb attack in the heart of Buenos Aires killed 85, injured hundreds and reduced the building to rubble, no one has ever been convicted for the crime. The federal judge who led the investigation, Juan José Galeano, was impeached in 2005 after being accused of “serious irregularities”.

“There was a judge who, when investigating the case, lost his impartiality,” Supreme Court president Ricardo Lorenzetti said last week. “But there is a part of the investigation that the court can save.

“The court is unable to annul the entire investigation, but only the part afflicted with the lack of objectivity in Judge Jose Galeano’s work,” the court said in its 90-page ruling. “We wish to convey a message against the injustice hovering over the case.”

One aspect of the case that will be examined is the role of Carlos Telleldín, a former car mechanic who was suspected of providing the explosives-filled van to the bombers. He allegedly received $400,000 to testify falsely against local suspects in the case.

Accusations that members of the Buenos Aires police force were involved in bribery and extortion during the investigation will also be re-examined. But representatives of both the Amia (Argentine Jewish Mutual Association) and the Daia (Delegation of Israeli-Argentine Associations) have called for the court to act even more radically to penetrate the “lies” that surround the case.

They have complained that the court has never managed to determine basic information about the mechanics of the bombing, focusing instead on the Iranian and Hizbollah connections.
It is widely held that terrorist group Hizbollah carried out the attack with Iranian backing, but Iran has consistently refused to co-operate with the investigation.

The case has been veiled in rumours and conspiracy theories, reaching to the highest levels. The former president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, has been linked to a cover-up, and a popular theory holds that the attack was carried out in revenge for Argentina’s decision to suspend a nuclear technology deal with Iran.

But no one has ever been held responsible in the “most complex case in Argentina’s judicial history”, as the Supreme Court ruling called it, and those involved see the re-opening of the case as a welcome opportunity to get back on track. The ruling is “a light of hope” after 15 long years, said Amia’s president, Guillermo Borger.

Last updated: 4:45pm, October 22 2010