BUENOS AIRES (JTA) – An Argentine federal judge investigating the 1994 AMIA Jewish centre bombing has requested that Singapore and Malaysia arrest a high-level Iranian adviser to the country’s supreme leader in connection with the attack.
Alí Akbar Velayati, who was foreign minister at the time of the terrorist attack and has been implicated in ordering the bombing, currently serves as an adviser on international affairs to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is currently travelling in Southeast Asia to attend a regional summit.
Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral was notified on July 18, exactly 22 years after the bombing that killed 85 and injured hundreds that Velayati, who heads the Strategic Research Center of the Expediency, was travelling to Singapore and Malaysia. He made the request to arrest Velayati alongside already existing arrest orders.
Under existing Argentinian law, an accused person must have the opportunity to defend himself before a judge in order to reach a sentence. Since the accused Iranians, many from the upper political echelons, have not set foot on Argentine soil, it has been impossible to move the judicial process forward. On Sunday, the head of the AMIA Special Investigation Unit, Mario Cimadevilla, confirmed that he is preparing a law to allow trials in absentia, to be discussed soon in parliament.
Iranians have been on Interpol’s most wanted list since 2007 in connection with the bombing, including Moshen Rabbani who did not travel to Colombia two months ago after political pressure to prevent his official trip.
Velayati has denied his role in the bombing. In an interview in May with an Argentinean TV channel he professed his innocence.
“This is a baseless accusation, a falsehood, a lie,” he said during the interview. “Argentina is under the influence of Zionism and the United States,” he added.
When asked if he would be willing to appear before an Argentine court, Velayati, who ran for Iranian president in 2013, responded that there is no reason why an Iranian official should have to respond to another nation’s accusations
Iran also is believed to be behind the 1992 car bombing that destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring 242.