Former Argentine President Barred from Leaving

Judge bars Carlos Menem from leaving the country, ahead of trial over alleged obstruction of investigation into AMIA bombing.

Ben Ariel ,

Protest by relatives of AMIA victims
Protest by relatives of AMIA victims

A judge on Wednesday barred former Argentine president Carlos Menem from leaving the country, ahead of his trial over alleged obstruction of the investigation into the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994, AFP reports.

The attack, which killed 85 people, was the deadliest ever on Argentine soil, and also left about 300 people injured.

The Center for Judicial Information, the official mouthpiece of Argentina's federal justice system, said the travel ban applies to "anyone being prosecuted next month for crimes related to the investigation into the attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA)."

"We bar anyone being prosecuted in connection with irregularities in the investigation of that attack on AMIA from leaving the country," justice officials said, according to AFP.

About a dozen defendants, including Menem, as well as the former head of intelligence, Hugo Anzorreguy, face charges that they took part in a cover-up of the probe into the attack.

An August 6 trial date has been set in the case, the report said.

The bombing made headlines again after the suspicious death earlier this year of a prosecutor who had launched a probe into the affair.

The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, died mysteriously on January 18 as he prepared to publicly accuse President Cristina Kirchner of shielding high-ranking Iranians suspected of ordering the attack.

Officials originally ruled Nisman's death a suicide, but his family insists he was the victim of murder.

It has been revealed that Nisman had drafted arrest warrants for Kirchner and for Foreign Minister Hector Timerman before he was found dead.

The president has suggested the prosecutor was manipulated by disgruntled former intelligence agents who killed him to smear her.

Former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati has denied Tehran's involvement in the 1994 bombing.

Velayati, Iran's foreign minister in 1994 and current foreign affairs adviser to the country's supreme leader, described allegations of Iranian involvement in the attack that killed 85 people and injured hundreds "unfounded, false" and a "lie."