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Argentina ex-president charged with hiding evidence in 1994 Jewish center bombing

[JURIST] An Argentine judge on Thursday charged [text, PDF, in Spanish] former president and current senator Carlos Menem [official profile; BBC profile] for allegedly covering up evidence related to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Menem, born in Argentina to Syrian immigrants, is accused of covering up the alleged involvement of Syrian-Argentine businessman Alberto Kanoore Edul. Judge Ariel Lijo also indicted Menem's brother Munir Menem, former intelligence chief Hugo Anzorregui, retired judge Juan Jose Galeano, former deputy secretary of intelligence Juan Carlos Anchezar, and former police commissioner Jorge Palacios and ordered a 300,000 peso freeze [Pagina 12 report, in Spanish] on their assets. Argentine prosecutors have alleged that the bombing, which killed 85 and injured more than 200, was planned by Iranian officials and carried out by Hezbollah [BBC backgrounder].

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman filed a petition [JURIST report] for Menem's arrest in May 2008 in connection with the alleged cover-up. In 2006, Argentina sought the arrests [JURIST report] of high-ranking members of the Iranian government, including former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [official website, in Farsi], in connection with the bombing, but Interpol's Executive Committee [official website] denied the request and voted to issue arrest notices [press release; JURIST report] for only five Iranians and one Lebanese man. In response, Iranian prosecutors issued court summonses [JURIST report] for five Argentinians they accused of falsely implicating an Iranian group with planning the bombing. In 2004, an Argentine judge conducted an investigation [JURIST report] into the possible connection between Swiss bank accounts allegedly held by Menem and the bombing. Menem also faces separate charges of illegally trafficking arms [JURIST report] to Croatia and Ecuador.

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