Menem cleared of Argentina Jewish centre bombing cover-up

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Former Argentine President Carlos Menem before hearing of his acquittal on charges of covering up investigations into the 1994 Jewish centre bombing in Buenos AiresImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Menem was president of Argentina between 1989 and 1999

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem has been cleared of involvement in a cover-up of a 1994 Jewish centre bombing that killed 85 people.

But the court jailed retired judge Juan Jose Galeano, who led the investigation into the attack, along with ex-intelligence chief Hugo Anzorreguy.

No-one has ever been convicted of carrying out the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (Amia) in Buenos Aires.

Iran was blamed but denies involvement.

Mr Menem, now 88, was president for 10 years from 1989. He denied trying to stop the investigation into the attack, in which a truck packed with explosives blew up outside the building. Three-hundred people were injured.

Prosecutors had demanded a four-year jail term, alleging he ordered a cover-up. Mr Menem's lawyer said the former president could not disclose anything that would affect the interests of the nation or its relations with other countries.

Thirteen defendants featured in the four-year trial on a range of charges including obstruction of justice and corruption.

Judge Galeano, who pleaded not guilty, was jailed for six years after the court convicted him of suppressing evidence and embezzlement.

Anzorreguy was imprisoned for four-and-a-half years.

Image source, AFP
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Juan Jose Galeano - guilty of suppressing evidence

Two former prosecutors, Eamon Mullen and Jose Barbaccia, received suspended two-year prison terms for dereliction of duty.

A second-hand car dealer, Carlos Telledin, who sold the van that contained the bomb, was given three-and-a-half years in prison.

The court heard that former judge Galeano paid Telledin to implicate several police officers in the attack.

Galeano rejected suggestions he had acted on the behest of Menem.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The seven-storey building in the centre of Buenos Aires was destroyed and 85 people killed

In a further development in 2015, special prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment in Buenos Aires the day before he was due to give evidence to Congress.

He had accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up Iranian involvement, allegation she has denied.