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13/11/2006 | Argentina Seeks Arrest Of Iran’s Ex-Leader

NYTimes Staff

An Argentine judge ordered international arrest warrants on Thursday for a former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and eight others in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

 

Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued the order two weeks after Argentine prosecutors formally accused the Iranian government of masterminding the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.

Iran has denied any involvement in the blast, on July 18, 1994, when a truck filled with explosives leveled the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building, a symbol of the country’s Jewish population, which is Latin America’s largest.

Argentine judicial officials did not immediately comment on the warrants.

Dr. Mohsen Baharvand, Iran’s ambassador in Argentina, said Iranian officials would urge Interpol not to act on the warrants. “We will not recognize this and will urge Interpol to do the same,” he said, calling the investigation politically motivated.

No one has been convicted of carrying out the attack despite a lengthy investigation marked by accusations of judicial misconduct and a government cover-up, but Argentine, Israeli and American officials have long blamed the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

The attack was one of two on Argentina’s Jewish population during the 1990s. A March 1992 blast at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people, an attack that also remains unsolved.

In court documents, Argentine prosecutors say the attack on the community center could have been tied to Argentina’s decision to stop providing Iran with nuclear technology and materials.

Several former Rafsanjani aides were also being sought, including a former intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian; a former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati; a former commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezai; and three other former officials from the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires at the time of the bombing.

A former Hezbollah foreign security chief is also wanted by Argentine authorities for questioning.

Mr. Rafsanjani was Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997 and remains a powerful figure.

NY Times (Estados Unidos)

 


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