Argentina chasing Iran MP wanted for deadly bombing

Argentina chasing Iran MP wanted for deadly bombing
Ali Akbar Velayati, currently in Iraq, stands accused of helping to orchestrate a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural centre in Argentina, where an arrest warrant has been issued.
2 min read
21 October, 2016
Previous eextradition warrants have been issued against Velayati in Singapore and Thailand this year [Getty]

Argentina on Thursday issued an extradition warrant for former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who is accused of helping to plot a deadly bombing on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Judge Rodolfo Canicoba issued the warrant to Baghdad, as Velayati is currently in Iraq to attend a conference of the Iranian-leaning World Assembly of Islamic Awakening, scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Previous extradition warrants against Velayati, who is on an Interpol wanted list, were issued to Singapore and Malaysia in July after Argentina learnt that Velayati was conducting a lecture tour.

Velayati stands accused, along with four other Iranian former officials including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered a moderate figure within Iranian politics, of orchestrating a car bomb attack at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994.

According to prosecutors, Velayati and his alleged co-plotters tasked the Lebanese Shia paramilitary group Hizballah with carrying out the attack which left 85 people dead.

Iran targeted Argentina, according to prosecutors, after Buenos Aires decided to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to Tehran.

Iran has denied involvement and consistently refused Argentina's demands that those accused stand trial. In an interview with Argentinian broadcaster C5N last year Velayati also rejected the accusations.

Last year Alberto Nisman, the lead prosecutor in the case, was found dead in mysterious circumstances days after accusing then-president Cristina Kirchner of conspiring with Tehran in order to shield suspects from prosecution.

Agencies contributed to this report.