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Argentine Court Releases Amia Report, Clearing Way for Probe of Court Case

November 2, 2004
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An Argentine federal court has released a massive report explaining its acquittal of five men accused of complicity in the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ main Jewish community center. The 4,815-page report, released Oct. 29, formally clears the way for a probe of irregularities in the investigation into the attack on the AMIA center, which killed 85 and wounded 300.

The investigation was coordinated by federal judge Juan Jose Galeano.

But Galeano, who is to be investigated for misconduct such as bribing a witness, will not be the only one probed.

The report also demands the investigation of former prosecutors Eamon Mullen and Jose Barbaccia; former Internal Affairs Minister Carlos Corach; former Intelligence Secretary Hugo Anzorreguy; seven legislators on a special commission created to follow the case; judges Gabriel Cavallo and Norberto Oyarbide; and the former president of the DAIA Jewish political umbrella group, Ruben Beraja.

Last September, the court acquitted the five Argentines after a three-year-long oral trial. The verdict reinforced allegations that the investigation had been marred by ineptitude and corruption.

Former President Carlos Menem, for example, has been implicated in media reports of hindering the AMIA investigation because of his ties to Iran.

Galeano was biased and his activity in the AMIA case “was not guided toward discovering the real truth,” according to the newly released records, signed by three federal judges.

The documents also said that evidence presented against the defendants constituted a compilation of sometimes contradictory conjectures that did not lead to a guilty verdict.

The records refer to a van used to bomb the AMIA building, but said it couldn’t be proven that Carlos Telleldin, the auto mechanic accused of providing the van to the bombers, was aware that it would be used in the attack.

“The court considers there are not evidential elements to conclude Telleldin knew the final destiny of the van,” the records said.

Galeano and prosecutors Mullen and Barbaccia have said Telleldin gave the van to four former police officers accused of being accomplices in the bombing. During the oral trial, however, it became public that Telleldin received a $400,000 bribe from Galeano.

A new department — The Anti-Terrorist Fiscal Unity — recently was created to launch a new investigation into the bombing, headed by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, a Jew. The appointment, made before the trial even concluded, was seen as a sign of President Nestor Kirchner’s determination to get to the bottom of the bombing.

Olga Degtiar, whose 21-year-old son Cristian was killed in the AMIA attack and who is a member of Familiares de las Victimas, the biggest victims’ relatives group, said the group needs a lawyer to help them fully understand the court’s arguments.

“Everything was constructed to set them free,” Degtiar said, referring to the five acquitted persons. “Nobody changes my conviction that the former police officers were indeed somehow in the local connection to the attack. The verdict notes Galeano’s mistakes, but does not consider clear proofs against the defendants.”

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