Argentina asks Iraq to extradite ex-Iran minister

Argentina issues another extradition warrant for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the AMIA bombing.

Ben Ariel ,

Aftermath of 1994 AMIA bombing
Aftermath of 1994 AMIA bombing

Argentina on Thursday issued another extradition warrant for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, the government said, according to AFP.

Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba asked Baghdad to extradite Ali Akbar Velayati, who is on the Interpol wanted list, since he is currently on Iraqi soil.

He asked Iraq to arrest Velayati "in order to extradite him, after learning via the international press that the accused travelled to Baghdad" on Wednesday, the Argentine justice ministry said in a statement.

In July Argentina issued a similar warrant to Singapore and Malaysia after learning Velayati was on a lecture tour to those countries.

Argentine investigators accuse Velayati and four other Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires.

The Iranians are accused of ordering the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah to carry out the bombing, the deadliest terror attack in the South American country's history.

Iran denies involvement and has repeatedly rejected Argentine demands for the accused to testify.

Velayati rejected the accusations as a lie in an interview last year with Argentine television channel C5N.

Argentina's former president, Cristina Fernandez, in 2013 signed an agreement with Tehran to form a truth commission to investigate the bombing.

That agreement angered many in Argentina, including members of its Jewish community. However, a court subsequently struck down the deal with Iran and Fernandez's successor, Mauricio Macri, indicated he would not appeal that decision.

The attack remains politically explosive in Argentina. The lead prosecutor in the case, Alberto Nisman, was found dead last year in mysterious circumstances four days after accusing Kirchner of conspiring with Iran to shield suspects from prosecution.

The case against Kirchner has since been thrown out by the court for lack of evidence, while Nisman's death is still under investigation.

In February, an Argentinian judicial official confirmed that Nisman was murdered and said he had been the victim of a “homicide”, though a prosecutor later admitted that Nisman “may have been forced to kill himself”.