Seven Lebanese and Brazilian nationals who had been suspected of links to bombings of Jewish buildings in Buenos Aires are suing the Paraguayan government because of their recent extradition to Argentina.
The seven – six Lebanese and one Brazilian – were extradited from Paraguay on July 23 in connection with an investigation into illegal stocks of weapons found near Buenos Aires in April 1994.
Argentine officials had hoped that the seven also would provide information regarding last year’s terrorist bombing of the Jewish community’s headquarters in Buenos Aires as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy there.
But Argentine Judge Roberto Marquevich freed the seven suspects on July 27, after two days of interrogation.
Marquevich said the information he had was not sufficient to bring a case.
The seven are now bringing suit against the Paraguayan government for what they said was a “miscarriage of justice.”
They further charged that their extradition was “a political favor to the Argentine government,” adding that because Argentina has so far been unable to find those responsible for last year’s bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish headquarters, “We were arrested as scapegoats because we are Arabs.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s ambassador to Argentina, Riad Kantar, accused Argentina of “discrimination against Arabs in general and Lebanese in particular.”
“Every time there is a terrorist attack in Argentina, the government rounds up Lebanese nationals and charges them with being Islamic terrorists. And every time they are released for lack of any proof whatsoever,” Kantar said.
Further charges against Lebanese nationals living in Paraguay were leveled by the country’s foreign minister during an international conference on terrorism that convened in Buenos Aires last week.
Interior Minister Carlos Podesta told the gathering that there were residing in the eastern Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este “at least 100 Lebanese young men who were militants in Islamic terrorist organizations, but are retired now.”
Podesta refused to elaborate. Nor did he substantiate his allegations.
Ciudad del Este, from where the seven Lebanese and Brazilian nationals were extradited to Argentina, is a well-known smuggling point and a suspected money- laundering base for Latin American drug dealers.