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Argentina congress approves pact with Iran to probe community center bombing

The National Congress of Argentina [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday approved an agreement with Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Argentinian courts have long accused Iran of sponsoring the attack [Reuters report], which killed 85 people, and in 2007 Argentinian authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians, including current Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez [official website, in Spanish] favors the move, in spite of objections from the Jewish community [Buenos Aires Herald report], Israel and the US. The agreement, initially signed [JURIST report] in January, will create an independent truth commission, to be composed of five judges who are jointly nominated foreign legal experts having residency in neither Argentina nor Iran. The commission is to conduct an investigation and prepare a report with recommendations on how to proceed with the case based on the laws of each country and within the framework of international law.

Iran drew additional ire from the US in January when an Iranian court sentenced an American-Iranian pastor to eight years in prison [JURIST report] for threatening national security through his leadership in Christian house churches. Earlier that month Iranian lawyer and prominent human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh [JURIST news archive] was temporarily released after spending over two years in prison [JURIST report] in Tehran for her September 2010 conviction for propaganda and harming national security. Iranian authorities pursued Sotoudeh because she represented political activists and sought to highlight the execution of juveniles in the country. Last month Argentina sentenced former Interior Minister Jaime Smart to life in prison for crimes against humanity [JURIST report] during the nation's 1976-1983 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In July Argentina's Poder Judicial de la Nacion sentenced two former Argentine dictators [JURIST report] to a total of 65 years in prison for their involvement in the systematic kidnapping of babies from leftist activists detained and killed during the "Dirty War."

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