BUENOS AIRES (Aug. 25)
Argentina’s Supreme Court has decided not to bring action against four Iranian diplomats who were accused of playing key roles in the July 18 bombing of the Jewish headquarters building here.
With the latest development, government officials here are now saying the case may never be solved.
In reaching the decision Thursday, the court agreed with the opinion of the country’s attorney general, Angel Aguero Iturbe, who two days earlier said there was insufficient evidence to press charges against the diplomats.
Members of the court voted that, given the scant evidence, the case should be handed back to Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who has been spear-heading the investigation into the bombing that killed 99 people and left more than 200 wounded.
Earlier this month, Galeano issued arrest warrants for the four Iranians, all of whom reportedly worked at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Galeano based the warrants solely on the testimony of an Iranian refugee, Monousheh Moatamer, who is currently in Caracas, Venezuela, under the protection of the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
Moatamer has been variously described as a former secretary in Iran’s Ministry of Culture and as a high official in the Iranian secret service. He reportedly fled Teheran a month ago.
When Galeano issued his report earlier this month, the findings were criticized as lacking concrete evidence by Ruben Beraja, president of the DAIA, the Jewish communal umbrella organization whose offices were among those destroyed in the bomb blast.
A MAJOR DIPLOMATIC BLUNDER
Compounding what is being perceived as a major diplomatic blunder, Argentine President Carlos Menem on Aug. 10 called for the expulsion of Iran’s ambassador to Argentina, and there was even talk of severing ties with Iran altogether.
Argentina withdrew its ambassador to Iran shortly after the July 18 blast.
Israeli and American officials have blamed the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement for the latest bombing, but Iran has flatly denied any involvement.
Another Lebanon-based group, known as the Supporters of God, has taken responsibility for the terrorist attack. Little is known about the group, but it is believed to be closely associated with Hezbollah.
In 1992, a bomb attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people. Argentine officials never succeeded in finding those responsible for that attack.
Meanwhile, security remains tight at Jewish and Israeli sites here in the wake of warnings from Israeli and other intelligence sources that they had information that another bomb attack was likely.