Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio has approved a request asking that former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and a number of top Kirchnerite officials be sent to trial, on charges related to the alleged cover-up of Iran’s role in the AMIA Jewish community centre bombing in 1994 in which 85 people died.
The case is related to a controversial Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Argentine and Iranian governments, which was denounced in a criminal complaint by former AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman before his death. The case, which was dismissed previously by other judges but was reopened by Bonadio in August 2016, is examining whether the memorandum was a spurious pact designed to cover-up the perpetrators of the bombing in exchange for reinvigorating trade between the two nations.
In total, 12 defendants will face proceedings against them for abuse of authority and engaged in an alleged cover-up, including former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, ex-Legal and Technical Secretary Carlos Zannini, former Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) head Oscar Parrilli, ex-deputy Foreign minister Eduardo Zuain and former lawmaker Andrés Larroque. Controversial social leaders Luis D’Elía, Fernando Esteche and Jorge “Yussuf” Khalil also face charges against them, as do former Treasury attorney Angelina Abbona and former Justice Ministry official Juan Martín Mena.
No date has been given for the trial.
This is the third open case against the former president to be sent to trial. The first is the so-called “dollar futures” case, while last Friday Fernández de Kirchner, who served as head of state from 2007 to 2015, was sent for trial accused of heading an “illicit association” with Austral Construcciones businessman Lázaro Báez and several others in order to defraud the state.
The charges come as no surprise. In December, Bonadio asked for the 65-year-old former president to be jailed under pre-trial detention, a move that was blocked by Fernández de Kirchner’s immunity from prosecution, granted under her role as senator for Buenos Aires province.
Fernández de Kirchner, who Bonadio originally wanted to charge with ‘treason,’ recently asked that the judge send the case to trial. She has repeatedly denounced the cases against her as politically motivated, claiming she is being persecuted.
"Given the evidence collected … the necessary elements are considered to have been gathered so that it may pass to this later stage,” Bonadio said in a 29-page resolution.
Lawyer resigns from case
Lawyer Aníbal Ibarra announced Monday that he had resigned from Fernández de Kirchner’s legal defence team for the case.
He had taken the position just one week ago, but has now decided to step down, after the case was sent for trial.
In a statement, Ibarra – who served as mayor of Buenos Aires from 2000 to 2006 – said that there was a "media and political operation to hit CFK,” and that he had suffered break-ins at his home. “I have suffered assaults on my person and damage to my home,” he wrote, adding that his children had received threats.