In the latest twist in a case that has captivated Argentina over the past month, a federal prosecutor has decided to move forward with accusations that President Cristina Fernández and top officials conspired to cover up Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The announcement signifies a formal renewal of the investigation begun by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose mysterious death on Jan. 18 came just hours before he was to testify against Fernández and other officials at a congressional hearing.
Federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita will take over the case Nisman was building against Fernández and other high-ranking officials. Nisman’s nearly 300-page complaint accused Fernández, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, lawmaker Andrés Larroque and others in the president’s administration of covering up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in exchange for favorable trade deals, most notably for access to oil, a commodity Argentina pays to import.
Both the Argentine and Iranian governments have denied Nisman’s allegations. Fernández’s cabinet chief said during a press conference Friday morning that the decision to move forward with Nisman’s case constituted a “judicial coup” and “an active strategy of destabilization.”
The case is largely based on two years of secret service wiretaps, only some of which have been leaked to the press. Pollicita will now present the case before federal judge Daniel Rafecas, who will determine whether the case goes to trial. Pollicita has stopped short, for now, of asking Fernández to testify.
A “march of silence” will take place in Buenos Aires next Wednesday in Nisman’s honor, as Fernández continues to face criticism over her handling of the prosecutor’s death and the ensuing political fallout. Last Wednesday, she criticized the planned march on national television, drawing the ire of opposition politicians, some of whom are concerned about increasing hostilities between the government and opposition figures.
“The distance between words and blood is very short in Argentina,” said opposition Senator Norma Morandini Thursday in Congress, according to The Guardian.
Image: The Presidency of the Argentine Nation, public domain