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  HOME | Argentina

Argentine Ex-President Denies Terror Cover-Up, Accuses Government of Persecution

BUENOS AIRES Ė Former Argentine president and senator-elect Cristina Fernandez denied on Thursday allegations that she conspired to ensure impunity for Iranian officials suspected of involvement in a deadly 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires.

Fernandez, who was head of state from 2007-2015 and won a Senate seat in last Sundayís midterm elections, also accused current President Mauricio Macri of using the courts to persecute his political enemies.

ďThey want to silence the opposition in Congress. The government is behind this with their judicial operators,Ē Fernandez, who currently faces three indictments, two of them for corruption, told reporters outside the courtroom in Buenos Aires.

She appeared in court after Judge Claudio Bonadio summoned her to testify as a suspect in a case originally filed in January 2015 by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in mysterious circumstances a few days afterward.

Just days before being found dead in his apartment of a gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 18, 2015, Nisman had leveled bombshell allegations against Fernandez.

He also had been scheduled to brief Congress about his accusation that Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and five other people tried to conceal Iranís involvement in the July 18, 1994, bombing.

Argentinaís Jewish community blames Iran and Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah for planning the bombing, which followed a 1992 terrorist attack on Israelís embassy in Buenos Aires that left 29 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

Nisman said that a 2013 deal between Fernandezís administration and Iran to jointly investigate the suicide bombing at the offices of the AMIA organization, an attack that left 85 dead, was in fact aimed at providing impunity for suspects including Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranís president at the time of the bombing; and the Persian nationís then-foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati.

Rafsanjani died in January of this year.

The deal involved a quid pro quo whereby the two nations were to boost bilateral trade and Iran was to supply oil to energy-hungry Argentina, Nisman alleged.

He had been working for a decade on the AMIA bombing, a case in which prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction.

Fernandez said in written testimony to Bonadio that her administrationís only objective in signing the 2013 deal was to achieve a breakthrough in the investigation.

She also noted that the agreement was endorsed at the time by Congress.

Iran never ratified the memorandum, which was eventually ruled unconstitutional by an Argentine federal court.

In early 2015, the Argentine courts dismissed Nismanís charges against Fernandez, although the case was reopened late last year and subsequently merged with another that accused the ex-president of treason in connection with that same Iran deal.

The re-opening of the AMIA cover-up case came a year after Macri took office as president, ending 12 years of center-left rule by Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Fernandez also is accused of overseeing irregularities in the sale of dollar futures contracts by the Central Bank at below-market rates during her tenure as president, as well as of conspiring to launder money through a real-estate company owned by the Kirchner family known as Los Sauces.


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