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Argentine investigator says he was kidnaped.

An investigator of the 1994 bombing at the Buenos Aires Jewish community center has announced that he was kidnapped, tortured and interrogated about Iranian suspects in the case.

Claudio Lifschitz, 43, told The Associated Press (AP) he was driving through the Argentine capital with his secretary March 6 when a van cut him off. Three masked gunmen jumped out, threw a plastic bag over his head and pushed him into the van.

Lifschitz said they then carved the letters AMIA--the Spanish initials for the Jewish community center--into his back and burned the number 309827 onto his arm. The criminal attorney said he didn't know what the numbers symbolized but suspected they were a reminder of the Nazi ID numbers tattooed on Jews sent to concentration camps.

Lifschitz said he was interrogated for several hours about whether he had any evidence that had not yet been presented in court regarding Iranian suspects. He also said the men asked if he had copies of Secretariat of State Intelligence (SIDE) wiretaps of a group of Iranians that investigators had never submitted as evidence in the case.

Lifschitz said the attackers identified themselves as SIDE agents. When they dropped him off an hour later, Lifschitz said he immediately informed police. Five days later, an investigation was launched into the alleged kidnapping.

The initial investigation into the 1994 bombing was carried out by Judge Jose Galeano. Lifschitz, Galeano's chief aide, had access to confidential information about the case. But six years after the attack, Lifschitz accused Galeano of paying $400,000 to former car dealer and police informer Carlos Telleldin, who allegedly provided the van that carried the bomb, in exchange for testifying against others.

Lifschitz accused Galeano of leading investigators away from evidence that a businessman--whose family came from the same Syrian village as then-Argentine President Carlos Menem's family--had contact with the perpetrators of the bombing, and might have been involved in the attack itself.

Lifschitz has accused Menem, Menem's brother Munir and the head of SIDE at the time, Hugo Anzorreguy, of pressuring Galeano to cover up evidence at the request of the businessman, Kanoore Edul.

Lifschitz has also said SIDE agents caught Iranians in Argentina on wiretaps before and after the bombing, but that the recordings had vanished.

When questioned by the AP, SIDE officials said they had no comment.

Despite two trials, no one has ever been convicted of any aspect of the bombing, which is widely viewed as a black mark on the Argentine justice system. The bombing killed 85 people and injured 200.

Two theories have been pursued over the years. One holds that Iran executed the bombing with the aid of Lebanese Hezbollah members resident in Latin America. The other holds that anti-Semitic Argentine police officers carried out the bombing.

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The government says Iran was behind the bombing and has issued arrest warrants for several Iranian diplomats.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Mar 27, 2009
Words:481
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