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AMIA prosecutor: Move trial outside Argentina

NEW YORK (JTA) — The chief prosecutor in the AMIA bombing investigation said the trial should be moved outside Argentina if it is to have any chance of success.

Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor in the case of the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, said Thursday the trial should be moved to another country if there is to be any chance of bringing its organizers and sponsors to justice.

Several local Argentines have been implicated in the bombing, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded, but the attack’s planners and sponsors, who include senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials, have never been brought to justice. Interpol has issued arrest warrants for several Iranian officials, but no arrests have been made. Those officials cannot be tried in Argentina because Argentina bars trials of individuals in absentia.

"We’re thinking of taking this case to a court in a third country due to the challenges of pursuing it in Argentina," Nisman said at a briefing in New York at the national headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League. "There is a practical impossibility of doing it in Argentina because Iran has said it won’t deliver the people we have accused. It’s also been hard for Interpol to arrest those people because whenever they leave Iran, they do so under diplomatic immunity."

Even outside Argentina, there is little chance Iran will submit Iranian suspects for trial. However, Nisman said, the move could help bring closure to the families of victims of the deadly attack.

"I’m following the wishes of relatives and looking for a way to get them some closure," Nisman told JTA through a translator. "I cannot give up on ways of trying to get justice."

Criminal attorney Claudio Lifschitz, who has accused former Argentine President Carlos Menem of covering up Iranian involvement in the attack, said last week that he was kidnapped and tortured by masked gunmen seeking information about the case. Lifschitz said his attackers claimed they were from Argentina’s intelligence agency and carved "AMIA" into his back.

On Thursday, Nisman expressed skepticism about Lifschitz’s account and said he would meet with him next week to discuss his alleged kidnapping.

Menem appeared in court this week but refused to offer testimony in the AMIA case. The former president has denied any role in the bombing.

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