Argentine Jews vent anger three years after bombing
By Stephen Brown
BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - Argentina's large Jewish community berated the government and their own leaders Friday in bitter ceremonies of the third anniversary of an unsolved bomb attack on their community center that killed 86 people.
Shouts of ``Murderer!'' and ``Traitor!'' met Interior Minister Carlos Corach, himself a Jew, outside the rebuilt AMIA community center in Buenos Aires, which was razed by a car-bomb July 18, 1994.
About 5,000 people carrying large photos of the dead and banners demanding ``Justice'' stood in silence for 86 seconds -- one for each victim of one of the worst peacetime attacks on Jews this century -- then vented their anger and frustration.
The Argentine capital was also the site of a bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in 1992, in which 29 people died.
No one is under arrest for the embassy attack. In the AMIA probe, three policemen and a car thief have been charged with providing the vehicle used, and Iran has been named as the instigator, but the bombers are still at large.
Buenos Aires' Jewish community, one of the largest in the world, has held vigils every week and lobbied tirelessly for the courts and police to find the killers.
But their frustration hit a new peak Friday, with one leader of the mourning relatives, Laura Guinsberg, accusing the Peronist government of ``trying to make us scared and desperate and wear us down.''
``I accuse the president of the nation, Carlos Menem, of being the accomplice'' in the attack, she said in her speech, the angriest moment of the day's sad ceremonies.
Ministers, security chiefs and even the opposition leaders present were all accused of failing in their duties.
``As long as impunity exists there is more and more danger of a third attack,'' AMIA leader Oscar Hansman told the crowd, ''This painful open wound will only heal when the culprits are discovered and punished.''
Jewish community leader Ruben Beraja, who has promised to make public a list of names of officials who have obstructed the investigations, was interrupted in his speech by angry shouts of ``The names! The names! The lists! The lists!''
Hundreds turned their backs on Beraja when he replied: ``I don't like vendettas. I respect justice, and those names will be given at the correct time and place.''
Menem stayed away from Buenos Aires for the ceremonies, but told reporters in nearby La Plata that his government had ``paid compensation and done everything it could, but now it is all in the hands of the courts.''
``This criminal attack will not go unpunished, of that I do not have the slighest doubt,'' said the Peronist leader.
His ministers tried to defend Argentina's handling of the case, with Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella comparing it to the TWA air disaster off Long Island last year that killed 230: ``It is not known whether it was an accident or a bombing, but that doesn't mean the U.S. investigation is being badly handled.''
September 8, 1997
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Two Jewish groups on Monday presented a 100-page document accusing Argentine officials, judges and police of blocking a probe into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center.
Lawyers for the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association and the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations presented their argument on Monday to Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who is investigating the attack that killed 86 people.
Earlier this year, the government acknowledged the failure of investigations into the 1994 cultural center bombing and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy, in which 29 people died.
Three police officers and a former officer have been charged with supplying a van used in the cultural center attack. A civilian has been charged with refurbishing the van prior to the bombing.
A handful of suspects were arrested after the embassy bombing but were released for lack of evidence.
September 08, 1997
Argentine Jews document 'obstruction' of bomb probe
BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - Argentine Jewish groups Monday gave a judge a 100-page complaint detailing alleged obstruction by public officials of his investigations into the bombing of a community center which killed 86 people in 1994.
The document accuses unnamed ``organisms of the state'' and ''public officials'' of ``diverting, obstructing and impeding'' Judge Juan Jose Galeano's probe into the bombing against the AMIA Jewish center in downtown Buenos Aires, according to a news release by two major Argentine Jewish groups.
Lawyers for the groups delivered the document to Galeano, which requested that the judge summon officials to give evidence of what they know of the attack.
Galeano was not immediately available for comment.
The attack on the AMIA -- one of the bloodiest against Jews in peacetime since the Second World War -- came two years after the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29 people.
No one is under arrest for the embassy bombing. Three policemen and a car thief have been charged with providing the vehicle used in the AMIA bombing, and Iran has been named as the instigator, but the bombers are still at large.
October 10, 1997
Argentine Jewish leader hails Iran probe in bombing
BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - The leader of Argentina's Jewish community said Friday the Supreme Court had finally agreed to probe possible Iranian involvement in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy.
Ruben Beraja told local radio he had met Supreme Court secretary Esteban Canevari Thursday and discussed the decision to begin investigating a possible Iranian link.
He said he and Canevari also discussed possible investigations into a letter in a Lebanese newspaper shortly after the embassy bombing claiming responsibility for the extremist group Islamic Jihad.
The court was not available for comment.
Beraja said he was ``pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the work and the direction the investigation has taken.''
A car bomb destroyed the embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, killing 29 people and wounding hundreds more. Two years later another bomb destroyed Buenos Aires' main Jewish community center, killing 86 people in one of the worst peacetime attacks against Jews in half a century.
Argentine Jews and Israel have accused Iran of having a hand in both attacks.
But the Supreme Court, which has investigated the embassy bombing for five years without finding any of the perpetrators, has until now denied there was any evidence that foreign guerrillas were involved.
The Israeli embassy responded furiously earlier this year when one Supreme Court judge suggested that Jewish extremists might have bombed their building.
The decision to take up the Iranian lead comes just a week before the arrival of President Clinton on an official visit, in which he will meet local Jewish leaders.
``There isn't any doubt that the visit by Clinton and his decision to grant an audience shows the political importance he is giving the issue,'' said Beraja.
Israeli Embassy staff were not working Friday due to Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, and were not immediately available for comment.
Like the embassy bombing, the community center bombing is unsolved, although a gang of Buenos Aires police have been arrested on allegations of having provided a van used in the attack.