Argentine Jewish leaders call on government to make AMIA bombing a ‘national priority’


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentine Jewish leaders called on the country’s government to make the investigation of the AMIA Jewish center bombing a “national priority” at a ceremony commemorating the attack that killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Speakers at the ceremony Monday at the site of the rebuilt building also thanked the government for voiding the agreement with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 bombing, which Iran has been accused of being behind.

President Mauricio Macri, who canceled the memorandum of understanding with Iran last December in his first week in office, attended the event for the first time as president but left early. Other members of his Cabinet stayed for the entire ceremony.

AMIA Vice President Ralph Thomas Saieg praised the “positive nullification” of the Iran pact. Sofia Guterman, whose daughter Andrea, 28, was killed in the bombing, also praised the Macri government for its quick cancellation of the memorandum.

Guterman also told the gathering that the previous governments “talked a lot but did very little. It is time that it promises less and solves more.” She added that if the investigation does not come to a resolution, “we’ll soon have to issue a death certificate for the case itself.”

Saieg called on the head of AMIA Special Unit, Mario Cimadevilla, and Justice Minister Germán Garavano to make the case “a national priority.” There have been no arrests.

“We know you have been in your posts for a short time, but we have been calling for justice for 22 years and bearing the sad reality of not having even one person arrested,” Saieg said.

The late AMIA prosecutor Alberto Nisman was remembered at the event, as well as at the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, where a panel on Monday was dedicated to the AMIA attack.

At the panel, Cimadevilla confirmed that he was preparing a law for trial in absentia to be discussed soon in the Parliament. The 250 participants from 17 countries who came to the Buenos Aires forum — the first time it’s been held in Latin America — participated in the AMIA ceremony.

In the 18 months since Nisman’s death, authorities have yet to determine whether he took his own life or was killed by someone else.

“Nisman didn’t kill himself, he was murdered,” Guterman asserted at the panel. “He was assassinated for being the prosecutor of AMIA case.”

Nisman had been scheduled to appear in Congress hours after he was discovered shot dead in his apartment to present allegations that then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner orchestrated a secret deal to cover up Iranian officials’ alleged role in the AMIA bombing. Fernandez denied the allegations and judges threw out the case.

In a statement, B’nai B’rith International President Gary Saltzman recalled Nisman’s “valiant efforts to procure justice for victims of the AMIA building bombing.”

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