Advertisement
News by VICE

Judge Tosses Out Case Against Argentina's President, in Claims Called a 'Copy-Paste'

On the same day a judge categorically dismissed the claims that Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner orchestrated a cover-up for Iran, the president reshuffled key posts in her cabinet.

by Gaston Cavanagh
Feb 26 2015, 10:55pm

Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP

A federal judge in Argentina on Thursday dismissed a case accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of a plot to shield Iranian suspects in the investigation of the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing.

"There is not a single element of proof, not even an indication, that points to the current head of state [...] for the serious crime of a cover-up, which would cause her to not only be accused, but also require an inquest," judge Daniel Rafecas said in a 63-page dismissal.

The judge's decision refuted the claims made by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman in the days before he was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment under suspicious circumstances.

Nisman said he had wiretap evidence to prove that Kirchner and her foreign minister Hector Timerman had colluded with Iranian counterparts to shield five Iranian citizens believed to be responsible for the 1994 attack that left 85 people and hundreds injured.

The dismissal came on the same day that Kirchner's government announced a top-level cabinet shuffling.

Related: New Prosecutor in Jewish Center Bombing Case Accuses Kirchner of a Deal with Iran — Again.

Kirchner replaced her cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, with the current secretary general of the president's office, longtime Kirchner loyalist Anibal Fernandez. It was a promotion for Fernandez to a post that he had held previously under Cristina Kirchner between 2009 and 2011.

The officials did not comment on the restructuring, but when asked, Capitanich said Thursday in his daily press briefing that he had already answered the question "like 150 times." He said he would like to be elected mayor of Resistencia, the capital city of his home state Chaco.

In turn, Eduardo de Pedro, a young congressman and member of La Cámpora, the youth wing of Kirchner's political party, is expected to assume the role of secretary general of the president's office. The men were scheduled to be sworn-in on Thursday evening.

Related: Mexico Forgives Pope Francis After 'Mexicanization' Spat.

Judge Rafecas described the claims against Kirchner, Timerman, and other officials as baseless.

Nisman had placed the weight of his claims against the president on a secret "pact" he said came in the form of a request to the international police agency Interpol to bring down the so-called red notices, or international arrest warrants, against the Iranian suspects.

Nisman's claim has been disproven by former Interpol chief Ronald Noble, who has said there was never any consideration or a request to remove the red notices against the Iranians.

The deceased prosecutor's claims have been investigated, Rafecas said in his dismissal, and all points "lead the to same conclusion — the non-existence of a crime."

Kirchner too has alluded to an 'intimate relationship.'

Nisman's case against the president was taken up by a prosecutor named Gerardo Pollicita. On Feb 13, Pollicita re-submitted Nisman's claims to a court, briefly validating the dead prosecutor's allegations about a Kirchner-led cover-up. 

Anibal Fernandez ridiculed Pollicita's re-submittal of the case this week. "Of the 60 pages that Pollicita presented, 50 were copy-paste," Fernandez said on Tuesday.

Pollicita, if he wishes, may appeal the decision to an appellate court to request the case be re-considered.


Gay affair claims refuted

A week after prosecutor Nisman's death, President Kirchner dissolved the Intelligence Secretariat, and on Wednesday, Argentina's lower house of Congress approved a new intelligence law aimed at placating the restive intelligence community in Argentina.

On Thursday, security secretary Sergio Berni testified before the prosecutor now in charge of investigating Nisman's death. Berni said he was present at the crime scene on the night of January 18 to assure that protocol was followed, and to guarantee the scene would remain untampered.

Prosecutor Viviana Fein on Wednesday also subpoenaed an Argentine senator who had made statements claiming that Nisman and his former aide Diego Lagomarsino had a sexual relationship.

Lagomarsino, who gave Nisman the weapon that was used in his death, denied accusations made by Kirchner and loyalists who labeled Nisman's death "a crime of passion." Kirchner too has alluded to an "intimate relationship."

"I don't know what an intimate relationship is," Lagomarsino said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El País. "First, when one maintains a relationship for that long, that's not a friend, nor is it a boss. If the president was referring to a homosexual relationship, I am confirming that is a no."

Related: The Secret Deal at the Heart of the Nisman Accusations: Fact or Fiction?

Follow Gaston Cavanagh on Twitter @GastonCavanagh.