An Argentinean federal judge has dismissed the case against President Cristina Kirchner that accused her of shielding Iranian officials allegedly involved in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Judge Daniel Rafecas ruled on Thursday, February 26, that the evidence in the criminal complaint filed by Prosecutor Alberto Nisman does not meet the “minimal standard” to open a formal investigation into the president.
The decision comes almost two weeks after Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita said he would advance Nisman’s case against Kirchner. Nisman was found dead in his apartment just hours before he was scheduled to present his evidence to Congress, and the circumstances of his death have yet to be determined.
Kirchner referred to Nisman’s claims as “absurd” and senior officials within her administration described the situation as a “judicial coup.”
Nisman claimed the president made “the deliberate decision to cover-up for the Iranian suspects” in an attempt to secure cheap oil from Tehran. The prosecutor’s charges also included the involvement of Argentinean Minister of Foreign Affairs Héctor Timerman, among other government officials and supporters.
Judge Rafecas, however, ruled Nisman’s evidence could not prove Kirchner committed any crime. “The evidence collected, far from even minimally supporting the prosecutor’s claim, undermines it in a robust and lapidary manner, leading to the conclusion that there was no crime,” wrote the judge.
Also on Thursday, the Argentinean Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to replace its Secretariat of Intelligence (SI) with a new Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI). The move comes as a response to Nisman’s death, who the president blames on rogue agents within the SI. The president also announced changes to her cabinet on Thursday, including the removal of the high-profile Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich.
Pollicita is expected to appeal Judge Rafecas’s decision in Buenos Aires Federal Court.