Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:30 pm Post subject: Arrest of Iranian officials urged for AMIA bombing
|Arrest of Iranian officials urged for AMIA bombing
By PAUL LUNGEN
Argentine prosecutors last week called for judicial arrest warrants of senior Iranian officials, including a former president and a top Hezbollah leader, for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community building that killed 85 people and wounded 300.
Iran responded by dismissing the prosecutors’ report on “that stinking file” and suggested it was aimed at “pleasing the Zionists and the Americans while diverting the [sic] world public opinion.”
In a news conference in Buenos Aires, prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martinez Burgos called for the arrest of former Iranian president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven other senior officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister, currently the chief foreign policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Maj.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, currently deputy defence minister; and Imad Fayez Mugniyeh, commander of Hezbollah’s overseas operations.
“We have proven that the decision to attack the AMIA headquarters on July 18, 1994… was a decision taken by high-ranking authorities in Iran’s government at the time,” Nisman told news agencies in Buenos Aires. “These authorities ordered the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah to carry out this attack. It is known that this organization is, from all points of view, a sub-organization of the regime in Tehran.”
Prosecutors allege the attack was planned on Aug. 14, 1993, in the Iranian city of Mashad in retaliation for the decision by Argentina in 1991 to stop assisting Iran’s nuclear technology program.
In Ottawa, Israel’s ambassador to Canada Alan Baker said the Argentine prosecutors’ report shows just how dangerous Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, can be.
Baker said the prosecutors’ finding that Iran and Hezbollah colluded at the highest levels “confirms to the world at large the danger that exists from both Hezbollah and Iran.”
Baker said the prosecutors’ investigation reveals “the linkage between them as terrorist entities that will go to any length to kill innocent people. We hope this will open further the eyes of the international community to the dangers of Iran.”
The call for arrest warrants follows previous investigations that had also implicated Iran and Hezbollah, but collapsed when evidence arose of corruption and incompetence A former judge in charge of the case, Juan Jose Galeano, had been disqualified after information came to light that he had bribed a witness.
The judge currently heading up the case, Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, will decide whether to ask for the arrest and extradition of the eight named Iranian suspects.
In a news release posted on the website of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, Iran’s prosecutor general Hojjatoleslam Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi was quoted as saying, “To our great sorrow, Argentina is one of the main centres of the Zionists’ lobby, but all the same, we expected the judiciary force of that country not to permit a judge to put under question its entire credibility.”
Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi alleged the previous Argentine judge in the case “had been bribed by the Zionists and the Americans” and said that “after the passage of so many years and having declared the file as closed… in order to divert the world public opinion, at the threshold of the International Qods [Jerusalem] Day, a new judge reopens that stinking file anew.”
In Canada, meanwhile, Liberal public safety critic Irwin Cotler said the federal government “should support issuance of arrest warrants against Rafsanjani, who in 2001, called for Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel.
He said that as a party to the Genocide Convention, Canada should refer repeated Iranian calls for the destruction of Israel to the United Nations Security Council and it should file a complaint against Iran to the International Court of Justice. In addition, Canada should draft criminal indictments against current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani for advocating genocide. That would give Canada the right, under the universal jurisdiction regarding genocide, to call for the extradition of either of them should they leave Iran.
Cotler, who visited Argentina a few weeks ago, said the government of Argentine President Nestor Kirchner is making the AMIA case a priority because it wants “to make human rights part of the national culture of Argentina.”
Cotler was told by Alberto Iribarne, Argentina’s minister of justice, that “it’s the right thing to do for a country committed to human rights, and Argentina’s conscience would not be assuaged until these people are brought to justice.”
Canadian Jewish Congress welcomed news of the proposed arrests.
“After 12 years, there has finally been confirmation of what earlier probes had long suspected: that Iranian state sponsorship of international terrorism had reached beyond the confines of the Middle East to facilitate Hezbollah’s attack on the Jewish community of Argentina,” Congress national president Ed Morgan said.
“Rafsanjani’s presidential successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has uttered unequivocal, genocidal threats against Israel,” noted CJC CEO Bernie Farber.
“The international community must take steps to nullify the ongoing threat posed by Iran to world peace and stability as well as its longstanding policy of sponsoring terrorist organizations, especially as this rogue state seeks to attain nuclear capability,” he added.
With files from JTA.