World / Crime & Legal

Argentine appeals court throws out Iran coverup case against president


A federal appeals court on Thursday threw out a case that accused President Cristina Fernandez and other top officials of a major coverup deal with Iran, giving a victory of sorts to an administration that has been rocked by the mysterious death of the prosecutor who made the allegations.

In a 2-1 decision, the 1st Chamber of the Federal Court upheld a February decision by federal Judge Daniel Rafecas to throw out the case. In a withering ruling, Rafecas said the case failed to present a single element of a possible crime.

That decision was appealed by prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita, who argued that a full investigation, including testimony of top officials, was necessary to evaluate the merits of the accusations.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman leveled the allegations against Fernandez on Jan. 14, and four days later he was found shot dead in his bathroom. Nisman’s death, which has captivated the South American nation and turned Argentines into armchair detectives, has yet to be solved.

Nisman accused Fernandez of making a deal with Iran to cover up the alleged roles of several officials wanted in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 and injured hundreds. Nisman said Fernandez made the secret pact in exchange for favorable trade deals with the Middle Eastern country. His 289-page investigation, which was published after his death, is based on wiretaps of administration officials allegedly talking about the deal.

Fernandez has strongly denied Nisman’s allegations, and Iran long has denied any role in the bombing. Still, fallout from Nisman’s death has hurt Fernandez’s popularity as her ruling party prepares for elections in October. Fernandez, constitutionally barred from running for a third term, has yet to pick a successor candidate.