Thousands of Argentines angry over the lack of justice in a 1994 Jewish community center bombing rallied outside Congress on Wednesday, demanding government action to resolve Argentina’s worst terrorist attack.
The demonstration led by Jewish leaders came nearly a week after an Argentine court acquitted five men accused of being accessories to the bombing that killed 85 people and injured 200 more.
Last week’s acquittals left unanswered who was behind the worst anti-Semitic attack in Latin America.
«Ten years ago we marched demanding justice only days after the attack,» said Sofia Gutemberg, leader of a group of relatives of the victims of the bombing.
«Today we’re here to do the same but with less hope and more pain. In Argentina, there is no justice and the ruling leaves us asking again who is responsible for what happened,» she said.
Under a banner that read «We won’t stop until there is justice,» Jewish leaders addressed the crowd and harshly criticized Argentine authorities for failing to apprehend those responsible for the attack.
A rigged van exploded July 18, 1994, outside the Argentine Israeli Mutual Aid Association, known here by its initials, AMIA. The blast leveled the seven-story building, a symbol of Argentina’s 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.
The three-year trial of the only suspects in the bombing was marred by irregularites that led many Jewish leaders and legal analysts to denounce the government’s handling of the investigation.
In announcing its verdict, a three-judge panel said the government’s case lacked evidence and called for an investigation into a former judge who led the probe, along with several officials in the government at the time under former president Carlos Menem.
Judicial officials earlier this year removed a judge who headed the investigation after a key witness testified he had been offered $400,000 to corroborate the government’s case accusing a group of Buenos Aires provincial officers of providing the van used in the attack.
Argentine and Jewish leaders allege the bombing bore the hallmarks of terrorists believed linked to the Lebanon-based group Hizbullah and the Iranian government, charges Teheran has repeatedly denied.
Jewish groups have accused the courts, the police, and various Argentine governments of failing to solve the crime for fear of potentially embarrasing revelations.
Shouts of «Justice» punctuated Wednesday’s protest, and some 5,000 people also observed a minute of silence as a siren wailed and the names of the bombing victims were read aloud.
Many in the crowd and on stage expressed outrage over the fact that no culprits have been found.
«How is it that in Spain they were able to detain those responsible for the Madrid bombings some two weeks after it happened, and here we are still waiting for answers 10 years after the fact?» asked Abraham Kaul, the president of AMIA.