Globe Briefs January 6

Globe Briefs January 6

Argentine court rules ex-president may have covered up Iranian bombing of Jewish center

The appeals court in Buenos Aires has cleared the path to a criminal probe into former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner’s motives in cooperating with Iran on the investigation of the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center.

In a 249-page ruling handed down last week, three judges wrote that the evidence presented “does not permit a justified dismissal of possible illicit actions” by Kirchner in connection with a deal between her and her administration with Iranian officials. Kirchner, who already is on trial over corruption charges, allegedly covered up evidence from the bombing in exchange for Iranian oil.

The allegation, made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously in January 2015, had been dismissed by a lower court.

Nisman accused Kirchner of trying to derail the investigation into the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 85 and injured 300. Argentine courts have accused Iran of orchestrating the attack, though Iran has denied any involvement.

In 2013, the Argentine congress under Kirchner approved an agreement with Iran to jointly probe the bombing, despite condemnations by representatives of Argentina’s Jewish community, Israel and others. A federal court in 2014 ruled the agreement was unconstitutional, prompting the government to appeal. Last year, however, the new Argentine government under President Mauricio Macri withdrew the appeal, effectively voiding the agreement.

Kirchner said the agreement was to make headway in the investigation, which has strained Iranian-Argentine relations. But according to Nisman, the move was part of a plan to close the country’s energy gap by trading Argentine grains for Iranian oil. She has dismissed the charge as absurd.

Nisman’s death was initially classified as a suicide, but an official investigating the case said early this year that the evidence pointed to homicide. The investigation is ongoing.

The prosecutor was just hours away from a scheduled appearance in Congress to brief lawmakers on his accusations against Fernandez when his body was found on the floor of his apartment, a .22-caliber pistol by his side.

Iran has repeatedly denied any link to the bombing, and an Argentine judge in February 2015 dismissed Nisman’s accusations as baseless. A review panel later agreed by a 2-1 vote, finding insufficient evidence to formally investigate Kirchner.

The ex-president has faced several criminal charges since leaving office a year ago. She was indicted this week on charges arising from allegations that she and top officials from her administration skimmed money intended for public works projects.

Spanish town votes to reverse BDS resolution it passed this year

In a rare move, a Spanish municipality voted to nullify a resolution it had passed earlier this year endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Santa Eulalia, a town on the island of Ibiza 300 miles southeast of Madrid, last week nullified in a vote the pro-BDS resolution it passed in the summer following legal action initiated against the municipality over the earlier vote, ACOM, the Spanish pro-Israel organization, said on Friday.

More than a dozen such BDS resolutions have been reversed over the past two years in Spain, where over 50 municipalities have endorsed BDS — more than anywhere else in Europe. But in most of the cases, the reversal came in an injunction following a court ruling declaring BDS discriminatory or in a local government decree designed to avoid such a ruling, according to ACOM President Angel Mas.

“It is rare for a municipality council to cancel in a vote a resolution that it had passed only months before,” he said.

The center-right Popular Party, which opposes boycott initiatives against Israel, called the second vote amid pressure from senior politicians and because of concerns that ACOM’s legal action against the resolution at Santa Eulalia would end in a nullification, Mas said. Such a reversal by vote has occurred only “once or twice” before in Spain, he said.

During debates at town hall about the resolution, Popular Party representatives argued it would be disproportionate to focus on the democratic nation of Israel at a time when hundreds of thousands  of Syrians have died in a brutal civil war among rebels, Islamists and forces loyal to the country’s dictator, Bashar Assad, Mas said.

In November, the Administrative Appeals Court No. 3 of Barcelona scrapped the motion passed in March by the suburban municipality of Sant Adrià de Besòs on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

Promoting BDS is illegal in France, where doing so is considered a form of incitement. Britain’s government said it was considering similar legislation. Spain has no laws specifically against boycotting other nations, as France does, but this has after 2014 become a de-facto position of the Spanish judiciary following several precedent-setting rulings by some of the country’s highest tribunals.

Mas welcomed the vote in Santa Eulalia, saying it was preferable to obtaining an injunction.

“Ours is not a litigious organization,” he said of ACOM. “We are not there to start court cases, but we are forced to do just that when illegal and discriminatory activities are taken against Israel. When these actions are corrected and the situation is resolved on the political field, where this issue belongs, that this is better than having to bring it to court.”