Well, this is going to be interesting.
Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio upheld a request by Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita and determined today that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who back in early 2015 was accused by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman of covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing, be called to testify as a suspect in the case. Fernández will have to go to the federal courthouses located in Comodoro Py on October 26, four days after the midterm elections in which she is a senatorial candidate for the Buenos Aires Province.
Other former Kirchnerite officials such as former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, former Legal and Technical Secretary Carlos Zannini, Victory Front (FpV) National Deputy Andrés Larroque, controversial social leader Luis D’elía and former Quebracho picket group leader Fernando Esteche, were also called to testify.
In case you don’t remember, four days after making this scandalous accusation to the media and hours before he was supposed to testify before Congress about it, Alberto Nisman was found dead in his Puerto Madero apartment with a single gunshot to the head.
What makes this even more controversial is the fact that 28 analysts in the Border Patrol (gendarmerie) have concluded recently that late prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered “in cold blood,” and that the crime scene had been tampered with in order to make it look like he had committed suicide.
These two cases are tightly related and if Bonadio concludes that the former President is effectively guilty of this charges, it’s not far fetched to speculate about the possibility of her being considered a person of interest in the investigation trying to determine who was behind Nisman’s death.
Fernández has long denied having had anything to do with his death. “I offered my theory about what happened to Nisman back then. I did it when I had to do it because I was President. We cooperated with the investigation,” she said in a recent interview with Infobae.
Immediately after, Fernández de Kirchner addressed the country, raising questions about the circumstances of his death and suggesting “he could have been used by people who wanted to harm her administration.”
In a letter that she wrote a week after Nisman’s death, Cristina attempted to understand what was happening while the country was still in shock: “Nisman returns [he cut a trip to Europe short to present his accusation] only to make an accusation that they [we don’t know who] knew was unfounded and couldn’t last. When journalist Sandra Russo analyzed the case in Página 12 under the headline ‘The Trick of Confusion” she said: ‘They wanted to use Nisman alive and will now use him dead.’ She was wrong. He was used alive and then they needed him dead. It’s that sad and terrible.”
In January of 2015, the prosecutor leading the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, stunned the world by saying that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Argentina and Iran in 2013 (which among other things, sought to establish an Iranian committee to investigate the terrorist attack alongside Argentina) really intended to cover up the responsibility of Iranian officials involved in the bombing in exchange for trade agreements.
The MOU, however, never saw the light of day. An Argentine appeals court declared it to be unconstitutional and once the Macri administration — which was always against it — took office, decided not to appeal the decision, putting an end to it.
Fast forward to 2017. Bonadio determined that Fernández has to be called to answer questions regarding her role in the conspiracy — a procedural step that many in the judicial world consider to be previous to an imminent indictment — after establishing the veracity of two pieces of evidence: The first is that at least two phone calls from social leader and Kirchnerite acolyte Luis D’Elía were made to a person considered to be his “Iranian contact” directly from the Casa Rosada.
The second is based on a statement from former Argentine Ambassador to Syria Roberto Ahuad, who says that back in 2011 then-Foreign Minister Timerman held a secret meeting with Iranian envoys in Syria.
In there, they allegedly outlined the MOU and the ulterior motives it would bring to the table: one of them was dropping Interpol’s red notices on five of the eight Iranians accused of being the masterminds of the AMIA attack. These notices are international arrest warrants, meaning that the accused haven’t been able to leave their country (Iran) since they were issued.
After both countries established their intention of working on the MOU, the red flags were loosened, clarifying that there was an ongoing diplomatic negotiation.
The other one was to set up a so-called “truth committee” that the MOU would create to acquit the Iranians accused. “It was intended to exculpate the Iranians accused, introducing a different theory to the one put forward by the Argentine justice. The committee would be cleared to issue recommendations that would ultimately affect the investigation being carried by the Argentine Judiciary and, as a result, be an attack against our country’s republican and democratic system,” reads a paragraphof the 240-page-long request.
According to Infobae, an Iranian citizen named Mohsen Rabbani – who worked at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires as a cultural attache at the time of the attack – participated in these meetings.
We have already experienced quite a few similar situations in the past and it’s not hard to speculate how the procedure will probably go: Fernández de Kirchner will face the judge, answer all questions posed to her with a great dose of sarcasm, refuse to answer the ones that have to do with the accusation and instead put forward a written statement claiming that everything is actually a hoax motivated by politics.
The only difference with the other cases is that, in this one, she hasn’t been accused of corruption. She’s been accused of covering up a terrorist attack and therefore a crime against humanity.