Argentine Judge Requests Arrest of Iranian Diplomats

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An Argentine judge has asked Interpol to arrest four Iranian diplomats, accusing them of responsibility in a deadly terrorist attack that destroyed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994.

The office of Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano confirmed the request late Saturday.

The diplomats were identified as Moshen Rabbani, former cultural attache in the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Barat Ali Balesh Abadi, a former Embassy courier, Ali Fallahijan and Ali Akbar Parvaresh.

Eighty five people were killed and more than 200 wounded when a car bomb exploded in front of AMIA's eight-story building, in the Jewish district of Buenos Aires. It was the worst terrorist attack in the history of this Latin American country. Argentina has the second-largest Jewish community in the Western Hemisphere.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected allegations of Iran's involvement in the bombing.

"Tthere is no proof to indicate Iran's involvement in the event and we have always declared that the Zionist circles spread such rumors," he was quoted as saying by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.

"If such a ruling has been issued against Iran the Argentinean government should rectify the mistake; otherwise the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely take proper action," Asefi said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry also summoned Argentine Charge d'Affaires to Tehran Ernesto Carlos Alvarez to protest the arrest warrant and demand an explanation, IRNA reported Sunday.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Euro-American Affairs Ali Ahani said the warrant was politically motivated.

Galeano, who is conducting the investigation into the bombing, said in a 400-page document to Interpol that he considered it beyond question that "radical elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran" were responsible for the bombing.

Galeano did not directly blame the Iranian government but claimed that Rabbani was a "key element in the organized group" that staged the terrorist attack.

Ahani also accused Argentine judicial officials of failing to give a positive response to Iran's offer to help clarify the ambiguity over the case shortly after Iran was accused of involvement in the bombing.

Argentina and Iran recalled their ambassadors after the 1994 attack, but diplomatic relations were not interrupted. The Iranian government has several times denied any responsibility in the AMIA attack.