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Argentineans claim for justice on unpunished Buenos Aires bombings

On Sunday, Argentina marked 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack that blew up a Jewish club in the center of Buenos Aires. The bombing, as a previous one that blew up the Israeli Embassy also in Buenos Aires is still unpunished as relatives of the victims blame authorities for the impunity.

On July 18 1994, a terrorist attack destroyed the center of the Jewish community in Argentina, the AMIA building, killing 85 people and injuring over 300. The attack came only two years after a similar explosion destroyed the Israeli Embassy to Buenos Aires leaving 35 people killed. After more than ten years of investigations, both horrendous crimes remain unpunished.

Sunday morning, after the sound of a lugubrious siren, thousands of Argentineans marked ten years of impunity and claim authorities for the resolution of the case that is considered to be the worst terrorist attack this South American nation has ever suffered. Leaders of the local and international Jewish community, as well as relatives of the victims, blamed former conservative president Carlos Menem and the then-Jewish leaders on hiding probes and heading deficient and scandalous investigations.

Current President Nestor Kirchner attended to the ceremony in the heart of the Jewish area of Buenos Aires –Argentina holds the third largest Jewish community of the world following Israel and the United States-, as well as governors, officials and prominent cultural figures. Kirchner has been welcomed as since took over presidency in May 2003, his administration ordered to review the actions taken by the local intelligence services, signaled by the community as responsible for the covering up criminals. Also, the Judge that led the ten-year scandalous investigation, Juan Jose Galeano, has been removed, as the file passed onto another magistrate.

During all these years, only the person that sold the car used by terrorist to blow the building, was arrested. However, they are not accused of plotting the attacks. The trial lays on the alleged local connection, but no investigations have been carried on the international connection of the case.

AMIA’s leader, Abraham Kaul, thanked President Kirchner for the actions taken to unveil the dubious procedure, as said that the trial was “a symbol of impunity, which shows that our Justice is dead”. Also, Mr. Kaul said Argentina had been betrayed by Menem, Judge Galeano, the Federal Police and all those who took part of the “scandalous investigation”

As the international connection is still unsettled, an intelligence report issued by local services says the Iranian Embassy was behind the attack. Contacted by PRAVDA.Ru, Juan Salinas, a former official investigator hired by the Jewish community on this case, denied versions that link Iran to the attack. "It's all a smoke screen. The AMIA explosion was plotted by people connected with the then-Argentine Government headed by Carlos Menem. The local Federal Police executed the plan, along with Syria and the Argentine Intelligence Services".

According to Salinas and other sources, the Israeli Embassy to Buenos Aires systematically covered up the investigations because the bomb has two specific addressees: "Menem's officials and Israeli diplomats". "The attack is linked to Mafia interests ranging from money laundering to weapons-trafficking", says Salinas conclusive. "If Iran had a participation was secondary, as both countries (Syria and Iran) were allies at that time", adds Juan Salinas, who was fired by the Jewish community after publishing the results of his investigations.

Therefore, there is enough evidence to think that Iran, if not absolute innocent did not take the main part in the events. This is something that tribunals should investigate further. If Argentina is not able to give an accurate response in the shortest time available, then the case has to be presented before international courts. In the meantime eighty-five families still claim for a response that should have been given to them ten years ago.

Photo: July 18, 1994: the AMIA after the explosion. The building was located in the center of Buenos Aires.