Last updated: 18 July, 2011

Argentines urge Iran to surrender bombing suspects

Relatives of victims of a 1994 bombing that leveled the seven-story Jewish charity building demanded Monday that Iran hand over officials suspected of masterminding the attack.

Eighty-five people were killed and 300 wounded when a bomb blast destroyed the AMIA building in Buenos Aires. Monday marks 17 years since the attack, the worst terror strike on Argentine soil, which justice officials believe Tehran ordered.

“We don’t need solidarity and condolences,” said Sergio Burstein, a member of a group representing bombing victims.

“If you really want this case to be resolved, just hand over the eight fugitives wanted for alleged responsibility in the AMIA bombing,” he said, addressing authorities in Tehran.

If the legal case has made little progress, “it is due to the resistance of a government like Iran that protects, rewards and celebrates terrorism as a state policy,” he said.

President Cristina Kirchner and several cabinet members were at Monday’s anniversary event.

Iran has denied involvement in the plot but for years refused to collaborate with the Argentine probe.

However on Saturday, a Foreign Ministry statement from Tehran said that Iran is “ready for a constructive dialogue” in the case and to cooperate with Argentina.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman on Sunday said that, if the offer is followed through, “it would mean a singular and very positive step forward.”

Timerman told reporters Monday said he was evaluating Iran’s offer.

The bombing was allegedly carried out by members of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah on Tehran’s orders. Hezbollah has also denied any involvement in the attack.

Argentina has issued warrants for the arrest of Ahmed Vahidi, who is currently Iran’s minister of defense, along with five other Iranians and a Lebanese accused of planning and carrying out the bombing.

Earlier, in 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was hit by a car bomb that killed 29 people and wounded 200.