Argentine Prosecutors Seek Arrest of Former Iranian President in 1994 Jewish Center Bombing

Argentine prosecutors asked a federal judge on Wednesday to order the arrest of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center that killed scores of people.

The decision to attack the center "was undertaken in 1993 by the highest authorities of the then-government of Iran," prosecutor Alberto Nisman said at a news conference.

He said the actual attack was entrusted to the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.

The worst terrorist attack ever on Argentine soil, the bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and injured more than 200 when an explosive-laden vehicle detonated near the building.

Iran's government has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack following repeated accusations by Jewish community and other leaders here.

Prosecutors urged the judge to seek international and national arrest orders for Rafsanjani, who was Iran's president between 1989 and 1997.

They also were asking the judge to detain several other former Iranian officials, including a former intelligence chief, Ali Fallahijan, and former Foreign Minister Ali Ar Velayati.

They also said they were urging the judge to order the arrest of two former commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, two former Iranian diplomats and a former Hezbollah security chief for external affairs.

Nisman and fellow prosecutor Marcelo Martinez Burgo said they suspected that Hezbollah undertook activities outside Lebanon only "under orders directly emanating from the regime in Tehran."

Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral had no public comments following the news conference. The judge, under Argentine law, is allowed an indefinite amount of time to accept or reject the recommendations.

The two prosecutors head a special investigative unit probing the attack, which flattened the former Jewish center, since rebuilt into a heavily guarded fortress-like compound.

The investigation unit was created after Argentina's federal courts in 2004 halted a botched investigation into the case by then-judge Juan Jose Galeano. Galeano was removed from the case and later stripped of his judgeship.