19 July 2018
The ruling is expected to ease some of the political pressure on President Cristina Fernandez. Photo:AFP
The ruling is expected to ease some of the political pressure on President Cristina Fernandez. Photo:AFP

Judge dismisses case against Argentina President Fernandez

An Argentine judge has dismissed allegations that President Cristina Fernandez tried to cover up Iran’s purported involvement in the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in 1994.

The judge on Thursday “discontinued” the case brought by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in January the day before he was to appear in Congress to discuss his criminal complaint, Reuters reported.

The scandal shocked the country and hurt the government’s credibility ahead of October’s presidential election.

The decision by judge Daniel Rafecas sparked divided opinions on whether the government had a hand in the ruling, according to the news agency. About 400,000 Argentines marched last week to demand a more independent judiciary.

In mid-January Nisman alleged that Fernandez sought to whitewash the investigation into the truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Four days later he was found dead, spawning a torrent of conspiracy theories and raising long-festering questions about interference and intimidation in the justice system.

Thursday’s ruling will alleviate some political pressure on Fernandez, whose popularity has dipped during the scandal.

“The judge’s decision certainly favors Fernandez, but it will probably not have an impact on the October elections,” said Ignacio Labaqui, Argentina analyst for Medley Global Advisors.

“The damage [to candidates allied with Fernandez] is already there,” he added. “According to polls, the bulk of public opinion believes that Nisman’s accusation was true and that he was murdered.” 

The inquiry into the alleged cover-up was given this month to prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita, who submitted the complaint.

“The judge held that the … complaint was not strong enough to initiate criminal proceedings because it did not support the alleged cover-up or obstruction of the investigation” into the AMIA bombing, said a statement from the judiciary branch’s information service.

Pollicita’s office said no decision had yet been made on whether to appeal.

Fernandez called Nisman’s cover-up claims “absurd” and said he had been duped by rogue security agents. She said she believed the agents then killed Nisman after using him to smear her. Iran has consistently denied the allegations.

Nisman’s body was found in his apartment on Jan. 18, a bullet in his head.

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