Marcos Brindicci / Reuters

Argentine prosecutor appeals ruling that cleared president of cover-up

Fernández is accused of making a deal with Iran to cover up responsibility for the bombing of a Jewish community center

The Argentine prosecutor investigating accusations that President Cristina Fernández tried to whitewash Iran's alleged involvement in a deadly 1994 bombing on Wednesday appealed a judge's decision last week to dismiss the case.

The judge discontinued the case instigated by investigator Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in January. Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita resubmitted the complaint last month.

Nisman's death, the day before he was to testify to Congress about his complaint against the president, shocked Argentina and hurt the government's credibility before October's elections.

Many Argentines expressed anger over Judge Daniel Rafecas' decision to dismiss Nisman's claims without a trial.

"A criminal hypothesis of exceptional severity and institutional importance, like that presented by Dr. Nisman, requires all efforts possible to attempt to reach the real truth of what happened," Pollicita said in a statement announcing his appeal.

Iran is suspected of carrying out a 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 people. Nisman accused Fernández in January of seeking to take the focus off Iran in order to get access to its oil.

Four days after he made that complaint, he was found shot dead in his apartment, leading to a blizzard of conspiracy theories.

Rafecas last Thursday dismissed Nisman's allegations for lack of evidence. On the contrary, he said, the government did all it could to aid the investigation into the 1994 bombing.

Fernández's administration has said Nisman's charges were part of a plan to smear the president's name and carry out a coup d'état. There were six coups in Argentina in the last century.

The government took out a full-page advertisement in local newspapers on Wednesday raising questions about Nisman's motivation to pursue his charges against the president.

"Could there be any hypothesis other than that he was trying to destabilize politics?" it asked.

In the ad, the government stressed that its stalled agreement with Iran, which would have allowed the interrogation of the Iranian suspects, remained the best way to get to the bottom of the 1994 bombing.

Nisman last year got a federal court to strike down that deal as unconstitutional. Tehran denies any responsibility for the attack and refuses to extradite the suspects. 


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