BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine Jewish leaders harshly criticized their government on Thursday, the 19th anniversary of the nation's deadliest terror attack, for dealing with Iran in ways they fear will only guarantee more impunity for those responsible.
A joint Argentine-Iran "truth commission" approved by both governments promises to move the investigation forward by enabling Argentine prosecutors to travel to Teheran and question high-ranking Iranian officials suspected of organizing the attack.
The bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in downtown Buenos Aires killed 85 people in 1994 and remains unsolved. But prosecutor Alberto Nisman recently released a 500-page indictment that accuses Iran and Hezbollah organizing the attack and continuing to establish cells across South America to launder money and commit acts of terror.
Iran denies any involvement in the bombing, and rejected Nisman's indictment as a Zionist conspiracy theory. There is no indication that Iran will ever allow suspects in the attack to be extradited from the country. The Iranian suspects have spent years on Interpol lists, without being apprehended.
The association, meanwhile, has sued to block the truth commission as unconstitutional, saying any suspects must be brought to justice in Argentina.
Speaking to a crowd of survivors huddling in Thursday's frigid winter chill outside the rebuilt Jewish center, Association president Leonardo Jmelnitsky cast doubt on Iran's intentions. "What confidence can we have in Iran when the same government has denied the genocide of six million Jews in the Holocaust?" Jmelnitsky asked.
Sofia Guterman, who lost her daughter Andrea in the bombing, accused her own government of subjecting the survivors to endless cycles of hope and dismay, of "demands for justice, impunity, memory, impunity, grief, impunity. The impunity has reigned, fed by the guilty, the accomplices and those who covered up the truth. It's difficult to understand," she said.