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Judge dismisses criminal allegations against Argentine president

[JURIST] A judge in Argentina on Thursday dismissed criminal allegations against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner [BBC profile] that had been brought by a prosecutor who accused her of conspiring to shield Iranian officials from responsibility for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Judge Daniel Rafecas found that the criminal complaint [text, PDF, in Spanish], which was filed before prosecutor Alberto Nisman's death last month [JURIST report], does not provide enough evidence to open an investigation of the president. The criminal case sought to charge the president, the foreign minister and other political supporters of President Kirchner. The original complaint by Nisman, the lead investigator into the attack on the Jewish center, which left 85 people dead, accused Ms. Kirchner of directing an effort to reduce pressure on Iranians wanted in connection with the bombing in exchange for trade benefits. However, Judge Rafecas stated the materials provided do not amount to circumstantial evidence [Reuters report]. The president has denied the allegations, and Iran denies any involvement in the bombing. The decision to dismiss the case can be appealed by the prosecutor, Gerardo Pollicita, and Maria Bourdin, a spokeswoman for the judiciary.

Kirchner was accused [JURIST report] of the cover up in January. After the prosecutor's death, Kirchner declared she is "sure" [JURIST report] that Nisman's death was not a suicide as initially indicated. An appeals court in Argentina ruled in May that a controversial agreement between Argentina and Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The two nations signed [JURIST report] the agreement in January 2013, which permitted Argentine authorities to question the Iranian suspects under Interpol arrest warrants, but only in Tehran. In 2005 Argentina accepted [JURIST report] formal responsibility for its failure to discover who was behind the 1994 bombing.

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