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Wanted: Former Iranian president
by Amin George Forji
2006-11-21 09:05:53
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The world is gradually, but surely, moving into a new interesting era of redressing past wrongs and injustices. Personalities who have committed grave atrocities, but could not otherwise be prosecuted at the time due to certain immunities, are frequently being called up to account for their actions and face judgment.

The former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, accused of ordering the AMIA Bombing in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, that killed 85 people and injured over 300 others, is the latest to be called up to face justice. An Argentina Federal Court declared him to be “wanted” and further announced that it was issuing an arrest warrant for the international capture of the former Tehran leader and eight of his top colleagues.

At the time, the Tehran government vehemently denied any involvement in the bombings. The Argentine investigators who inspected the bombing site announced that they found forensic evidence that the bombers drove a van packed with explosives, with traces from Iran, into the building in question and detonated the device.

Hezbollah, said to be backed by Iran, was later blamed for direct involvement, but despite the lengthy investigations, no one was convicted. The Jewish Cultural Center, the largest in Latin America, served as the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association building and was the most potent symbol of the country’s Jewish population. The bombing was “the worst terrorist attack ever on Argentine soil,” stated Chief Prosecutor Rodolfo Canicoba Corral. Argentina will be seeking the help of Interpol to carry out the arrest warrant, wherever the former leader may be.

He justified the timing of the warrant on new serious evidence, warranting the detention of the culprits. To this effect, he said Argentina was sending an international exhortation to the Islamic Republic of Iran to hand over the former leader to be tried for crimes against humanity. "How Interpol or the Iranian state evaluates this request is beyond my jurisdiction," Canicoba said, expecting diplomatic process to take a long time.

Commenting on the issue, Iran's charge d'affaires to Buenos Aires, Mohsen Baharvand, dismissed the charge as politically motivated, and driven by US and Israeli interests, and that under such conditions, the government of Iran will oppose the detention of any of its nationals. "We reject and condemn this accusation…fraught with irregularities. We will not recognize this and will urge Interpol to do the same," said Baharvand in a statement.

Hashemi Rafsanjani ruled Iran between 1989 and 1997. He is the current leader of Iran’s Expediency Council.

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