Argentina, Iran, Agree on Inquiry into AMIA Bombing
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Sunday announced an agreement with Iran to create an independent commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Aid Association (AMIA) Jewish center in Buenos Aires, AFP reported.
Iran confirmed the deal.
Argentina has long accused Iran of masterminding the attack that killed 85 people. Since 2006 it has sought the extradition of eight Iranians, including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, for carrying out the attack.
Iran has always denied any involvement in the bombing, and has refused to arrest the suspects.
Kirchner said the two sides had agreed to create a "truth commission" with five independent judges – none of whom may come from either Iran or Argentina.
She said the agreement might allow Argentine authorities to finally question those for whom Interpol has issued "red notices", which alert the international community of arrest warrants.
Kirchner called the agreement "historic," saying "it guarantees the right to due process of law, a fundamental principle of international criminal law."
The agreement was signed by Argentina's foreign minister and Iranian authorities in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of an African Union summit. It must still be ratified by lawmakers in both countries.
The Iranian foreign ministry published pictures of the signing ceremony, media in Tehran reported.
The reports said Iran and Argentina agreed to "close that file through mutual cooperation and with the help of independent lawyers" in order to "shed light on this issue."
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said the agreement contains "no secret clauses," and that under its terms, Iran "will deliver all its documents" on the bombing to judicial authorities.
AFP noted that the accord comes after several months of negotiations -- starting in October at the United Nations in Geneva -- aimed at resolving the pending legal actions.
The discussions have drawn criticism from both Israel and Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.
Both have demanded there be no let-up in Argentine authorities' efforts to put the Iranian suspects on trial.
The July 18, 1994 bombing occurred when a van loaded with explosives blew up outside the AMIA, leveling the seven-floor building housing it.