Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Argentine judge orders arrest of ex-president for treason

Argentine judge orders arrest of ex-president for treason

One of South America's most prominent leftists may be facing jail time as former President Cristina Fernandez was indicted Thursday on charges of high treason and trying to cover up Iran's involvement in a 1994 terrorist bombing.

Judge Claudio Bonadio on December 7 in his 491-page ruling called on Argentina's Senate to strip Fernandez of her immunity from arrest, which she gained upon being elected senator this fall.

Her political clout has since faded with the victory of center-right President Mauricio Macri in elections later that year, but the populist firebrand now seeks a comeback as leading the opposition against Mr. Macri.

Yesterday her legal adviser, Carlos Zannini, and an ally, Luis D'Elía, were...

According to Bonadio, the memorandum of understanding signed with Iran was created to ensure "impunity" for the Iranians suspected of the crime and "normalize relations between the two states".

Fernandez said on December 7 that the deal with Iran "was an act of foreign policy that can not be prosecuted".

"The case was absolutely paralysed because Iran does not extradite its compatriots. What we did was to act within the framework of worldwide law", she said.

The AMIA attack is the subject of several parallel cases as prosecutors are also looking into whether the country's leadership at the time had conspired to obstruct the investigation.

Argentine newspaper Clarin reported, however, that Congress was unlikely to secure the two-thirds majority vote to do so - meaning her detention was not expected. She was sworn in as a member of the Senate last week.

Fernandez and the other defendants have several options to appeal, which could drag the case out for years.

Macri's centre-right Cambiemos alliance has 25 seats in the upper house.

Nisman, 51, was found dead in his apartment here on January 18, 2015, of a gunshot wound to the head.

In his request for the ex-president's arrest, the judge backed a finding by a former prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, that the 2013 agreement brokered during Fernandez's administration ensured that no charges would be pursued against Iranians allegedly linked to the attack.

Iran's government has repeatedly denied any role in the attack and refused to hand over suspects in the case.

"It is an invented case about facts that did not exist", said the former president, who governed from 2007 to 2015.

Argentine investigators accuse five former Iranian officials - including former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and ex-Republican Guard head Mohsen Rezai - of ordering Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to carry out that bombing.

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