Argentine Prosecutor Expects to Indict Local in AMIA Bombing

Argentine Prosecutor Expects to Indict Local in AMIA Bombing

March 13, 2009 – New York – Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman told AJC that he expects to indict the head of a local group that helped carry out the Iranian-backed bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in July, 1994. Nisman shared this development with senior AJC leaders during a breakfast today at AJC headquarters.

“I am optimistic about finalizing the investigation this year of who was the ring leader of the support group in Argentina,” said Nisman.

AJC Executive Director David Harris praised Nisman for his “courage and determination” in seeking those responsible for the AMIA bombing, which killed 85, and in securing compensation from Iran for victims’ families.

“Total estimated damages, both to people and property, in the AMIA bombing is $800 million,” said Nisman. His office has been identifying and seizing Iranian assets. For example, five of the ten real estate assets in Argentina owned by Mohsen Rabbani, the former cultural attaché in Iran’s embassy, and a mastermind of the AMIA bombing, have been taken. Rabbani’s properties seized so far are worth about $800,000, according to Nisman, suggesting there is still a long way to go.

Nisman also said his office is reaching out to other countries to seek cooperation in seizing the bank assets of former Iranian President Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials sought by Interpol.

In 2007, Interpol issued Argentine arrest warrants for five former Iranian officials directly involved in planning the AMIA attack. Argentina requested Iran to extradite them to Buenos Aires for trial, a request spurned by Tehran, which also has ignored the Interpol warrants.

Iran’s refusal to extradite any of the Iranians is “shameful,” said Nisman. “Iran has a very fanciful interpretation of international law,” said Nisman, adding that international norms make extradition possible even in the absence of an extradition treaty.

AMIA is an AJC international partner. AJC leaders have visited Buenos Aires frequently, meeting with Argentine government officials repeatedly to discuss the AMIA case and support the efforts of the Special Prosecutor.

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