AP: Prosecutors accused five Argentines with falsely implicating a group of Iranians in the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center, state IRNA news agency said Tuesday. Argentines rejected the claims. The Associated Press
By NASSER KARIMI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Prosecutors accused five Argentines with falsely implicating a group of Iranians in the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center, state IRNA news agency said Tuesday. Argentines rejected the claims.
The action came a week after Interpol granted a request from Argentina to put the Iranians and a Lebanese man on its most-wanted list for the 1994 blast that killed 85 people and wounded 200.
In its action Tuesday, Tehran called for the five who live in Argentina to appear in an Iranian court to face the allegations. But Argentines linked to the case quickly dismissed the request.
“This summons by Iran will have no effect, and is seen in the international community as something without sense that will only serve to confuse and delay,” Jose Adaszko, vice president of the Argentine Jewish cultural center, said in comments reported by news agency AJN.
Iran has strongly denied that the Iranians were involved and has accused Interpol of bowing to U.S. and Israeli pressure to issue the warrants.
The dispute is steeped in geopolitical drama at a time of high tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s suspect nuclear program and U.S. claims that Iran is supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan claims that the Islamic Republic denies.
The summons was at least the second attempt by Iran to get the group to face Tehran’s accusations. In August, Iranian television reported that the men were ordered to appear within days, a request the Argentine foreign ministry quickly rejected.
The ministry said at the time it was difficult not to see the summons as a “political reprisal” to Argentine efforts to get hold of the Iranians allegedly involved in the community center bombing.
IRNA, in a report carried on its English-language Web site, said the five Argentines asked to appear at the Tehran Justice Department are former Interior Minister Carlos Corach; president of the Jewish center Ruben Beraja; Judge Juan Jose Galeano; and prosecutors Eamon Mullen and Jose Barbaccia.
The IRNA report cited Iranian Deputy Prosecutor General, Yadollah Alizadeh, as saying Iran would demand Interpol issue arrest warrants for them if they do not appear.
Alizadeh was quoted as saying the five Argentines have been charged with making a case against Tehran and hiring individuals of “anti-government affiliations” to testify against Iran.
“It is total nonsense. It isn’t in agreement with any regulation or norm,” Sergio Burstein, a relative of a victim of the attack, said in Buenos Aires.
No one has been brought to justice for the bombing at the center when an explosives-laden van detonated, leveling the seven-story building.
Argentine prosecutors contend the plot was hatched at a 1993 meeting in Mashad, Iran, and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah was entrusted with carrying it out.
They say witness accounts, other testimony and telephone and travel documents prove the meeting occurred.
Iran says it has evidence showing such a meeting never took place and pledged to defend the wanted Iranians.
Interpol can not force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot for letting suspects move freely.
The five wanted Iranians are Iran’s former intelligence chief, a former cultural attache in Tehran’s embassy in Argentina, a former Iranian diplomat, a former head of the elite paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, and a Guards general.
Interpol also named Lebanese Hezbollah militant Imad Moughnieh, one of the world’s most sought terrorism suspects, among those wanted in the bombing.
AP writer Debora Rey in Buenos Aires contributed to this article.