Argentine judge issues arrest warrant for Cristina Kirchner over terror attack cover-up

Argentine judge issues arrest warrant for Cristina Kirchner over terror attack cover-up

The attack on the Jewish community center killed 85 people and injured a further 150, making it the deadliest bombing in the country's history.

The penalty for treason is 10 to 25 years in jail, according to Argentine law.

Ms. Fernandez and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, dominated Argentinian politics for more than a decade starting 2003, with Mr. Kirchner serving as president from 2003 to 2007, and Ms. Fernandez succeeding him for the next eight years.

On Thursday, several former aides of Fernandez were arrested on the same treason charges that the prosecutor is pursuing against the ex-president.

In his request for the ex-president's arrest, the judge backed a finding by a former prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, that the 2013 agreement brokered during Fernandez's administration ensured that no charges would be pursued against Iranians allegedly linked to the attack.

Nisman, 51, was found dead in his apartment here on January 18, 2015, of a gunshot wound to the head.

Nisman had prepared a case charging Fernandez with working behind the scenes to clear Iran of any culpability in the bombing attack and normalize relations to clinch a grain-for-oil deal with Tehran that was signed in 2013.

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Kirchner told the press conference that the signing of the memorandum in 2012 "was an act of foreign policy that can not be prosecuted".

Argentine investigators accuse five former Iranian officials - including former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and ex-Republican Guard head Mohsen Rezai - of ordering Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to carry out that bombing. "From the legal point of view, it is nonsense" to suggest signing the deal amounted to "treason", she said.

"The case was absolutely paralysed because Iran does not extradite its compatriots".

Fernandez has called her mounting legal woes a political vendetta and denied all wrongdoing. Fernandez says her government had no role in the death.

For that to happen, two-thirds of the legislators must decide to remove Kirchner's immunity for an arrest.

Kirchner's leftist alliance in the Senate has a total of 32 seats in the 72-seat Senate, but only around a dozen senators are in the Kirchner camp. The Senate usually avoids votes to allow the arrest of colleagues until they have been found guilty, but Senate leaders have said they will closely examine the judge's ruling.

Fernandez and the other defendants have several options to appeal, which could drag the case out for years.

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