Sunday, March 8, 2009

Long arm of the Ayatollahs reaches Argentina

AMIA investigator tortured in Argentina

Mar. 8, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Argentinean Jewish community leaders were demanding an immediate probe Sunday into the kidnap and torture of one of the senior investigators in the 1994 Iranian-Hizbullah bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

The investigator, Claudio Lifschitz, said masked attackers nabbed him from his home on Friday night, threw him into the trunk of a van and violently interrogated him for several hours.

The men identified themselves as members of the Argentinean intelligence service and demanded to know if Lifschitz had any case material that wasn't presented in court regarding several Iranian suspects, he said.

The assailants also burnt the letters AMIA into Lifschitz 's back and arm before releasing him near the police academy premises in Buenos Aires.

"They made me get out of my car, get into a van and they took me away," Lifschitz said. "They put a plastic bag over my head and with a blowtorch, they burnt the letters AMIA on my arm and my back."

Argentinean Jewish community leader José Scaliter was quoted on the local Jewish News Agency Web site as saying that "we have called for an immediate probe of the incident."

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee expressed its outrage over the assault.

"We trust Argentine authorities will quickly find those who carried out this brutal attack on Mr. Lifschitz," AJC Executive Director David A. Harris was quoted on its Web site as saying. "This awful incident undermines Argentina's important progress to bring to justice those responsible for the murderous attack on AMIA's headquarters."

Eighty-five people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the July 18, 1994, bombing, the single worst terrorist attack on Argentinean soil.

The blast leveled the seven-story building, a symbol of Argentina's 200,000-strong Jewish population.

Late last year, a 10 million pesos civil suit was filed in an Argentinean court by the family of one of the victims, in the wake of an Argentinean prosecutor's report linking Iran to the bombing.

Since the report was released, a series of international arrest warrants were issued against Iranian officials for the attack.

Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report

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