Members of Argentina’s government rallied behind President Cristina Kirchner on Saturday, tossing aside allegations she protected Iranian suspects in an investigation into a 1994 bombing.
“It’s utter nonsense,” interior and transportation minister Florencio Randazzo said of the allegations.
An indictment filed Friday against Kirchner endorsed the claim made by investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman before he was found dead on the eve of a congressional hearing.
Nisman was leading an investigation into the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association which killed 85 people.
He had alleged Kirchner protected high-ranking Iranian officials from prosecution in the bombing probe.
After Nisman was killed, a new team of prosecutors quickly endorsed his charges against the president.
The accusation now goes to the judge in the case, Daniel Rafecas, to decide whether to call Kirchner to make a statement.
Anibal Fernandez, the president’s top spokesman, emphasized there had been no formal request for subpoena in Nisman’s written allegations.
“They have not been able to back up a single thing, and that’s why there has been no formal request for subpoena,” he argued.
AFP / Juan Mabromata
Argentina’s public prosecutor Alberto Nisman gives a press conference in Buenos Aires on May 20, 2009
Kirchner, 61, has presidential immunity and could only face punishment over the case if two-thirds of Congress voted to remove it — unlikely in the current legislature.
The president got word of Friday’s indictment while she was in a plane heading from the capital to her late husband’s home turf in Santa Cruz province for a Friday night event.
She wrote in a Facebook post that her accusers “can just keep all that hatred, resentfulness … and lies. We are going to let them keep that.
“We are going to be known for (the per-child subsidy for parents), good retirement benefits, same-sex marriage, more rights, collective bargaining, a better minimum wage … for being on the side of scientists, schools and kids,” Kirchner said, looking to reframe her legacy as Argentina’s first democratically elected woman president.
The bombing at the Buenos Aires Jewish center, known as AMIA, was the deadliest such attack in Argentina’s history.
After the initial investigation ended with no convictions, Nisman was named in 2006 to reopen the case.
He accused Iran of ordering the attack via Lebanon-based Shiite movement Hezbollah, and requested arrest warrants for five Iranian officials including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
On January 14, four days before he was found dead, Nisman filed a 300-page report accusing Kirchner and Timerman of colluding to shield the Iranian suspects from prosecution.
His death was initially labeled a suicide, but suspicion has fallen on Kirchner’s government.
The president has suggested Nisman was manipulated by disgruntled former intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her.