Argentine Ex-sergeant Held in Fatal Jewish Center Blast

A retired Argentine army sergeant turned himself in to a judge this week, saying that he had information about a terrorist cell responsible for the July 18, 1994, bombing of the AMIA building, the Jewish community’s headquarters here.

Sgt. Pedro Eugenio Fonseca surrendered Monday to federal Judge Luis Miguel Vila in the southern Patagonian city of Comodoro Rivadavia.

Vila ordered him flown to Buenos Aires to be interrogated by Judge Juan Jose Galeano, the official in charge of the investigation of the terrorist attack that left 87 dead and at least 300 wounded.

Galeano, who ordered complete secrecy, did not disclose any information that was volunteered by Fonseca.

The former sergeant had been placed under protective police custody in an undisclosed location in Buenos Aires, a court official said.

The official said Fonseca “is not under arrest” and no charges had been brought against him.

Fonseca, who fears for his life and his family’s security, reportedly offered to trade information for protection.

According to unconfirmed reports, Fonseca admitted to driving a support vehicle the day of the bombing and said he knows who delivered to terrorists the Renault van that was used in the car bombing.

The former army sergeant was described by sources as a member of the “Carapintada,” or painted-face band, a military right-wing group that rebelled several times against former President Raul Alfonsin’s government in the mid- 1980s.

Carapintadas, named for their habit of painting their faces black and green during combat, were crushed in 1991 by army forces loyal to current President Carlos Menem.

Many officers and soldiers belonging to the group are still in jail, and others were discharged or retired after their failed and bloody final mutiny.

Argentine officials tried to curb expectations about the value of Fonseca’s information.

State Intelligence Director Hugo Anzorreguy said there is “not enough evidence to say that Fonseca tells the truth.”

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