November 13, 2019
Argentina has asked Azerbaijan to arrest a high-level Iranian adviser to the country’s Supreme Leader in connection with the bombing in 1994 of the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center, JTA reported on Sunday.
Alí Akbar Velayati was scheduled to attend the Second Summit of religious world leaders in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, on November 14 and 15.
Velayati, who was Iran’s foreign minister at the time of the terrorist attack and has been implicated in ordering the bombing, is now an adviser on international affairs to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Under existing Argentine law, an accused person must have the opportunity to defend himself before a judge. Since the Iranians accused in the attack, many from the upper political echelons, have not set foot on Argentine soil, it has been impossible to move the judicial process forward.
The Argentine Foreign Minister summoned the ambassador of Azerbaijan in Buenos Aires on Friday and expressed the “deep concern” of Argentina’s government about Velayati’s presence in Baku and asked for Azerbaijan’s cooperation “in order to carry out the detention for extradition purposes”, according to JTA.
Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, has long been linked to the 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29 people, and the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85.
The Iranians are accused of ordering Hezbollah to carry out the AMIA bombing, which was the deadliest terror attack in the South American country’s history.
Argentine investigators accuse five former Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing.
Iran denies involvement and has repeatedly rejected Argentine demands for the accused to testify.
In 2016, ahead of another Velayati trip, Argentina made requests for his arrest to Singapore and Malaysia but was not successful.
That same year, Argentina also asked Iraq to extradite Velayati during his visit to Baghdad.
Two years later, another unsuccessful request was made to Russia.