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Survivors Call for Justice After Argentinian Court Links Iran to Terror Attacks

April 17, 2024
Florencia Montaruli
7 min read
The court concluded that the attacks were in response to Argentina's refusal at that time to provide nuclear technology to Iran
The court concluded that the attacks were in response to Argentina's refusal at that time to provide nuclear technology to Iran
Luis Czyzewski, father of a victim of the attack on the Jewish community center AMIA and husband of Ana María, spoke to IranWire about the terror attacks and the latest court verdict
Luis Czyzewski, father of a victim of the attack on the Jewish community center AMIA and husband of Ana María, spoke to IranWire about the terror attacks and the latest court verdict

Last week, a historic ruling by the Federal Criminal Court of Argentina confirmed that both the attack on the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA bombing in 1994 were carried out by Iran-back Hezbollah militant group and responded to a "political and strategic design" of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The court concluded that the attacks were in response to Argentina's refusal at that time to provide nuclear technology to Iran. 

After the announcement of the verdict, the Jewish community in Argentina shared their views on it.

Luis Czyzewski, father of a victim of the attack on the Jewish community center AMIA and husband of Ana María, spoke to IranWire about the terror attacks and the latest court verdict.

Ana María and Luis worked at the AMIA on Pasteur Street in Buenos Aires city. However, Luis was not always in the main building.

The night before the attack, Ana María had asked their daughter Paola to help with some tasks in her office.

The last thing Luis knows about what happened that day is that Paola took the elevator down to the ground floor of the AMIA to go for a coffee, and the bomb exploded just as she opened the door. Ana María survived because her office was at the back part of the building -- the half that remained standing after the explosion.

Paola was 21 years old when she died.

From 1994 to today, Luis has been a complainant in the AMIA case and is currently a complainant in the case on the memorandum of understanding with Iran.

Almost 30 years after that tragic day, the verdict seems to have brought little relief to the heavy burden carried by anyone who lost a child.

"I am moved by the ruling. There have been almost 30 years of struggle, and being able to read that verdict is gratifying," Czyzewski tells IranWire.

"But, unfortunately, this does not close any case. We must continue fighting. The AMIA case has people that have to be tried. The accused Iranians are never going to come to Argentina to be tried, obviously. Today, the justice system in our country does not allow someone to be under a 'trial in absentia. Our huge struggle today is to fight, so substantial advances can be made on the issue of trial in absentia," he adds.

"Trial in absentia" occurs when the accused is not present in the legal process, and it is not considered in current Argentine legislation.

After hearing the Criminal Law Court's ruling, the Ministry of Security of Argentina confirmed that necessary tools will be promoted to change the justice system to allow this type of trial.

In this regard, Czyzewski said, "There are interesting projects regarding trial in absentia. But we must understand that most of them involve two instances: the trial in absentia and the second instance if the accused decides to appear in the country, everything returns to a clean slate so that a trial can be held in person. This potential shift in our legal system is certainly worth our attention and consideration."

Carlos Mahiques, one of the three judges responsible for the historic ruling, pointed out that "when it comes to crimes such as terrorism, given its lethality and magnitude, the state is obliged to adopt alternative and complementary procedures that avoid impunity for the authors". 

Mahiques also proposed reforms to the international judicial system so that States are recognized as subjects of criminal law and can be accused and convicted.

The judge's proposal, written in his ruling vote, seeks to have Iran tried before international courts.

But the scope of having a trial has a deeper meaning for Czyzewski, who said, "Something that is also important to note and that many have asked me about the 'trial in absentia', is that if the accused are convicted, it is not going to help the convicted spend time in jail.

"So, many people ask me, what would it be for them? Well, I explained to them that it would help the entire Argentine society see all the investigations, the evidence, and the facts that prove that those responsible are indeed responsible. Everything is done through an oral and public trial.

"I think it would be a way to give the Argentine society the information it should have known during all these years. And I think that has a significant value."

For Czyzewski, another critical element of the court's ruling is the possibility of considering all the elements contributed to the AMIA case by foreign intelligence services and that they are effectively included as evidence.

"Including these elements will give a lot of light on the cause, on the why and the how, because they are, in fact, the evidence we need to move forward."

"This is a 'Yes' to Nisman"

If there is any person in Argentina who knew the work of prosecutor Alberto Nisman leading the investigation into the AMIA bombing, it is Luis. 

"I had the opportunity to talk to Nisman's eldest daughter about her father. I told her about his meetings with me, which always started the same way: Nisman asked me if I had more grandchildren, and I asked him how his daughters were doing."

For Czyzewski, this verdict is proof that the death of prosecutor Nisman was not in vain. "This ruling proves that Nisman was right, and interestingly, it is directly linked to the case that Nisman was pursuing, which has to do with the case over the memorandum with Iran, a case in which I am a complainant.

"The ruling is a big 'yes' to Nisman. It is proof that he was on the right path. It is a boost for us, the complainants, who, like Argentine society, wonder why someone could push for the signing of a treaty that did so much damage to Argentina," he said, referring to the memorandum with Iran promoted by the government of the then President Cristina Kirchner.

The Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) stated that it "favorably" received the ruling that confirms the attack "responded to a political decision" by Iran and was carried out by Hezbollah.

On several occasions, the AMIA has expressed "that the judicial file accredits multiple pieces of evidence and contains numerous evidence that made it possible to establish, from the beginning of the investigation, the role of Iran and its active participation in the decision, organization and financing of the terrorist attack."

However, the AMIA demanded that the intellectual and material perpetrators "be tried and serve their sentences for the atrocious crime against humanity that they committed."

Iran's Attack on Israel Raises Alarm

After the ruling on April 11, the Argentine government raised the level of anti-terrorist alert in the country.

This involved strengthening security in buildings, establishments, and educational institutions related to the Jewish community in the country, as well as diplomatic offices (including those linked to the United States).

Security was also reinforced at the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires. All of this occurred within the framework of Iran's attack on Israel and the fear of an unprecedented escalation, which occurred on April 15.

"Regarding Iran's attack on Israel, I believe Iran made a strategic error in capital letters by attacking Israel and that this attack only contributed to revaluing Israel's military power and its defense capacity. For some time now, I must tell you that everywhere, worldwide, I hear and read many questions about Israel every day, and let me say that I consider that these questions have an important ideological weight behind them. But since Iran's attack the other day, I see that those questions have diminished, which reaffirms Israel's position in this conflict," Czyzewski said.

Commenting on whether Iran's attack on Israel scares him, he said, "We have Hezbollah right around the corner, to say it informally. Hezbollah is currently in Bolivia and Brazil. They have been there for a long time, they have always been there, and that is worrying. But we must always be worried, not now that Iran attacked Israel, but every day of our lives."

In the latest, the Minister of Security of Argentina, Patricia Bullrich, has confirmed to the Argentine media that Hezbollah cells have an active presence in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Brazil.

"Argentina is in an area where there is an active presence of groups linked to Iran. Hezbollah is in the tri-border area between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. A presence has also been seen recently in Iquique, in the north of Chile, last year in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a few weeks ago in Peru and Bolivia," Bullrich said in an interview.

"Terrorism does not wait, terrorism does not warn," says Luis Czyzewski, adding, "Terrorism attacks by surprise. We know it with the Israeli Embassy, and we know it with the AMIA. Iran did not warn us. You have to be worried every day. Here in Argentina, not only the Jewish community, but all Argentines have to be worried. And not only Argentina, the whole world should be worried about terrorism."



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