Former Argentine president could lose immunity in Jewish center bombing case

Argentine senators discuss the removal of the former president’s immunity from prosecution in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center and subsequent murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

By: Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Argentine senators began discussions on Tuesday on the possible removal of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s immunity from prosecution — less than a week after a federal court in Buenos Aires ruled definitively that Alberto Nisman, the federal prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital, along with the Kirchner government’s alleged cover-up of Iran’s culpability, was assassinated in January 2015.

Nisman’s body was found in his Buenos Aires apartment hours before he was due to present a formal complaint to Argentina’s Congress that detailed the alleged role of Kirchner and her government colleagues in covering up Iran’s responsibility for the AMIA atrocity. Eighty-five people died and hundreds more were wounded when a truck packed with explosives rammed into the AMIA building in downtown Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994.

While government-appointed investigators initially tried to depict Nisman’s death as a suicide, in December 2017 federal judge Julian Ercolini issued the first ruling that Nisman had been murdered. In the same month, the federal judge investigating Nisman’s original complaint against the former Kirchner government, Claudio Bonadio, indicted the ex-president and several of her close colleagues on treason charges related to a secret pact that effectively exonerated the Tehran regime for the AMIA bombing. Bonadio also requested formally that the Argentine Senate — of which Kirchner is an elected member — remove her legal immunity.

Tuesday’s discussions at the Argentine Senate resulted in a decision to respond to Judge Bonadio’s request within 180 working days. Several observers of Argentine politics, however, have expressed skepticism that the necessary votes could be mustered against the former president.

“Even if the senate removes her immunity, which I doubt, she’s unlikely to face arrest,” Eamonn MacDonagh, an expert on the AMIA case, observed on Twitter. Commenting on the Argentine Senate’s decision on Tuesday, MacDonagh observed that the 180 working days deadline meant “that ball is in the long grass until November.”

Turning the spotlight back to Iran

But progress in uncovering Nisman’s killers will leave Kirchner exposed and even turn the legal spotlight back onto Tehran regime, according to Toby Dershowitz, a senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington D.C., who has researched the AMIA case for several years.

Dershowitz argued that last week’s judicial confirmation that Nisman was murdered for attempting to expose the Kirchner’s government’s alleged cover-up “prevents Iran from murdering 85 people with impunity, even with the passage of time.”

“The court’s action disrupts the efforts of those who sought to sow seeds of confusion by saying the world will never find out who killed Nisman,” Dershowitz told The Algemeiner. “And it begins to hold accountable those who appear to be accessories to the assassination of Nisman himself.”

Dershowitz remarked that Nisman — whose investigative efforts resulted in the global law enforcement agency Interpol issuing “red notices” for the wanted Iranian AMIA bombers in 2007 — had “paid the ultimate price for exposing the truth.”