Argentinian court rejects charges against Kirchner in bombing case

BUENOS AIRES – Argentinian court has dismissed criminal case against Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who accused her of c...


BUENOS AIRES – Argentinian court has dismissed criminal case against Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who accused her of conspiring with Iran to cover up the country’s alleged involvement in the bombing in 1994 against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

The ruling, released Thursday night, was the latest twist in a legal drama that took a shocking turn in 2015 when the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, died of a gunshot wound the day before, he was to present what he described as explosive evidence against Ms. Kirchner, then president.

The bombing investigation and Mr. Nisman’s death have been a source of frenzied speculation and internal political struggles in Argentina in recent years, raising troubling questions about the politicization of the justice system.

The unanimous decision of a panel of three judges is the latest judicial victory for Ms. Kirchner, who ruled the country from 2007 to 2015. She follows a model of Argentine justice showing leniency towards politicians when they are in power. and increased control when they leave. Office.

As the legal proceedings against Ms Kirchner fizzled out, the president who succeeded her, Mauricio Macri, a center-right politician was dismissed from his post in 2019, has become the target of a politically charged investigation. This week, a judge ordered Mr. Macri to testify about allegations that his government illegally spied on the families of crew members of a submarine that sank in 2017.

The bombing case stems from a memorandum of understanding signed by Argentina and Iran in 2013. He called on the two countries to set up a joint commission investigate the 1994 attack of the Israelite Mutual Association of Argentina, which left 85 dead.

The deal would have allowed an Argentinian judge to travel to Iran to interview those accused of planning the bombing, which Tehran had refused to extradite.

The agreement never entered into force and was eventually declared unconstitutional in 2015. Critics assaulted Ms Kirchner for negotiating with a government that many Argentines suspected was shielding brains from the attack. Iran has long denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Nisman, who had been appointed to revive the languid investigation into the bombing, claimed the note was part of a plan by Ms Kirchner and other senior officials to trade impunity for a group Iranian officials accused of playing a role in the attack in exchange for trade deals. The prosecutor said it was a “betrayal”.

Ms Kirchner said negotiating with Iran was the only way to advance an investigation that had been crippled for years.

After Mr Nisman was found dead on January 18, 2015, the bombing case stalled in the courts until a judge in 2017 indicted Ms Kirchner and other officials of his former administration. (Mr. Nisman’s death is still unresolved.)

In its ruling on Thursday, the three-judge panel said the case should not go to trial because the deal with Iran, whatever its merits, “did not constitute a crime.”

The decision infuriated families of the victims and Jewish groups in Argentina.

“We’ve been waiting three years for them to set a date for the trial, and now they decide it’s not a crime?” Tomás Farini Duggan, lawyer representing the families of the victims, said in an interview with local radio.

Mr Duggan predicted that the case would end up reach the supreme court. Jewish leaders said they looked forward to spending a day in court.

“Of course, we don’t agree with this decision; in order to determine whether there has been a crime or not, there must first be a trial, ”said Jorge Knoblovits, the head of the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, which represents more than 100 Jewish organizations in Argentina.

Allies of Ms Kirchner and her co-defendants in the case saw the decision as justification.

“It was the first time in six years that we had been heard by impartial judges,” said an accused, Juan Martín Mena, now Deputy Minister of Justice.

Ms Kirchner continues to face unrelated charges in several corruption investigations. Another case accusing him of defrauding the government through the dollar futures market has been closed this year.

Mr. Macri also faces several corruption-related investigations that his allies have characterized as persecution by judges friendly to the current administration.

The tit-for-tat nature of the charges has meant that courthouses have often become the scene of political battles.

“Pursuing court cases has become a political instrument to attack a rival,” said Catalina Smulovitz, professor of political science at Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. “This not only erodes the reputation of those involved, but it really erodes the prestige and perception of the proper functioning of the justice system as a whole.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Argentinian court rejects charges against Kirchner in bombing case
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