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Iran – Argentina Agreement on AMIA

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Major Breakthrough for Tehran’s Diplomacy

Mohammad Hossein Mahdavi
Expert on International Issues

The foreign ministers of Iran and Argentina met on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the African leaders in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on January 27, 2013. During the meeting, the governments of Argentina and the Islamic Republic of Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on the terrorist bomb attack against AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. Although no state authority in either country took official position on the agreement, it reverberated far and wide in print and digital media of many countries. In view of the mostly negative reflection of this event in digital media, this article aims to discuss the memorandum of understanding from the viewpoint the Iran’s rights.

The official text of the memorandum has not been released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry yet, but the Spanish translation of the text is accessible on most news websites of Argentina. Therefore, the Spanish text has been taken as basis for the following analysis which tries to discuss the agreement in brief. At the beginning, it would be advisable to ask the Iranian Foreign Ministry to release the English text (which is the text of reference in case of possible discord) as well as the Persian text of the memorandum.

Let’s have a look at the most important items of the memorandum.

1. The two foreign ministers, as representatives of their countries’ executive powers, have agreed to set up a fact-finding commission comprising high-ranking international legal experts in order to study both sides’ evidence on the incident. After conducting necessary investigations, they will propose their solutions within framework of the two countries’ laws and regulations which will be considered as advisory views. Both sides have clearly stated that the aforesaid commission is not part of any judicial process and the final recommendations of the commission will just clear the way for further measures to be taken. Therefore, firstly, questioning the two countries’ nationals (as some news outlets had claimed) is out of the question. Secondly, this process is not comparable to the task that is usually assigned to arbitration commissions and similar bodies in international customary usage and this is only an advisory commission. Thirdly, the case will not go on to further judicial stages in Argentina until the final report of the commission is released. Fourthly, establishing a fact-finding commission is in fact indicative of the fact that the Argentinean government is not sure about the correctness of the available evidence and has accepted that the evidence should be verified by a third party.

2. The commission will first delve into the available documents and conduct necessary consultations with both sides. In the second stage, in presence of judicial officials from the two sides and in order to conduct interviews with people who have been given Red Notice by the Interpol, the commission members will travel to Tehran. The second clause of Article 5 of the memorandum has stipulated that representative of the two sides will answer questions posed by the commission. Therefore, no person will have to be physically present at the commission’s meetings in order to answer the questions.

3. Article 8 of the memorandum has laid stress on respect for fundamental rights of all people which in addition to clause 2 of the Article 5 of the agreement makes one conclude that people can shun presence at the commission sessions according to their countries’ laws even for answering those questions which do not amount to interrogation. As a result, no authority can force them to attend the commission sessions. It seems that the authors of the memorandum of understanding have been pursuing exactly this goal by including the Article 8.

4. Article 5 has noted that the commission comprising Argentinean and Iranian judicial officials will hold sessions in Tehran. Given the general spirit of the memorandum of understanding, it can be concluded that the main party with which persons involved in this case should meet is the members of the commission, not the judicial authorities of Argentina. Therefore, stories which have been circulating in some newspapers in recent days about the judge and prosecutor of the case flying to Tehran to interview people whose names have been mentioned in AMIA case are incorrect and inaccurate.

5. Article 6 of the memorandum has stipulated that it would become binding only after ratification by legislative bodies of the two countries. According to Iran's laws, the memorandums of understanding do not need to be ratified by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis). However, in her address to the United Nations General Assembly and also in several other addresses thereafter, the President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has noted that any agreement with Iran should be first ratified by her country’s Congress. Following the ratification of the text of the agreement, it will be time for choosing commissioners by both countries officials. Then the head of the commission (which according to the memorandum of understanding will be chosen through agreement of both countries) will be appointed. Afterwards, the commissioners will draw up the main agenda of the commission. All these stages should be completed before the memorandum of understanding can enter into force and there is a possibility that one or more of these stages may fail to pass through the legislative bodies of either country.

6. News stories published by Iran's domestic media have made no reference to Article 7 of the memorandum of understanding. The author, however, believes that this is one of the most important articles of the memorandum. According to this article, the memorandum of understanding will be immediately sent to the Interpol after it is signed by both ministers of foreign affairs and will be put on the agenda of the world body. According to a report published by Fars news agency on January 27, 2013, both foreign ministers have signed a joint letter and sent it to the head of the Interpol concurrent with the signing of the memorandum. The main goal of this article is that both countries should announce to the Interpol that bilateral differences over the AMIA case, which had already led to the issue of Interpol Red Notice, will be solved through cooperation of the two countries. Therefore, the Interpol can take action to revoke the Red Notice it has already issued for a number of people whose names have been mentioned in this case. It seems that if the Interpol is really pursuing the agenda of its police missions as stipulated in its statute, it would first suspend the Red Notice and will totally rescind it after approval by its Executive Committee and the General Assembly.

7. The Islamic Republic of Iran is totally and completely sure that accusations against it in AMIA case have been cooked up by Israel and this has been unwavering conviction of the Islamic establishment about this issue throughout the past years.

The judicial proceedings which were taken for the arrest of one of the persons implicated in this case clearly proved that accusations against Iran were totally baseless. The person in question was apprehended in 2003 in London on the request of an Argentinean judge who had demanded his extradition to Argentina. However, a London court heard the case and released the detainee due to the absence of adequate evidence against him. Even after 19 years that have passed since the AMIA attack, the Argentinean government has not been able to produce the smallest shred of evidence to prove charges against Iran. In the above case, the Argentinean judge sent more than 6,000 pages of documents to the London court, but the court ultimately exonerated the detainee.

Let’s not forget that various instances of corruption and bribery which were implicated in this case were revealed in 2004 and were later proved in an open trial in Argentina. As a result of corruption charges, the investigating judge as well as the prosecutors of the case were incriminated of various offenses such as destroying the main evidence in the case, ignoring the principle of impartiality, and paying bribe to the first-row convict.

At present, the AMIA case has turned into a propaganda tool at the hands of the international Zionist conspirators, who were actually the main protagonists behind the attack, and they are keeping up the propaganda hype against Iran. Meanwhile, the role of Iran in AMIA blast was the main ground for the approval of a recent law by the US Congress which aims to counter Iran's growing influence in Latin America. The case has been also used as a ground for leveling other unfounded charges against Iran. Therefore, establishment of such a commission comprising impartial international legal experts in order to see into both countries’ arguments and documents can once more shed light on the true nature of anti-Iran charges. In that case, although the commission’s recommendations will be of advisory value, they will not allow the Argentinean judicial officials to continue their past allegations against Iran.

Key Words: Iran – Argentina Agreement, AMIA, Memorandum, Fact-Finding Commission, Judicial Proceedings, Mahdavi  

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
http://www.ettelaat.com
Translated By: Iran Review.Org