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Argentina requests arrest in Qatar of senior Iranian official

Relatives of victims of the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish center mourn the death of their lost ones
— Buenos Aires (AFP)

Argentina on Monday called on Qatar to arrest a visiting Iranian vice president over his alleged responsibility for the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center.

Iran's vice president for economic affairs, Mohsen Rezai, is wanted by Argentinian special prosecutors for alleged participation in the planning of the July 18, 1994 bomb attack against the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, or AMIA, which killed 85 people and wounded 300.

Special prosecutors submitted a petition to Argentina's foreign ministry calling for all appropriate diplomatic levers to be pulled, noting an outstanding Interpol red alert against Rezai as well as newspaper clippings mentioning his visit to Qatar, according to the official Telam news agency.

A diplomatic source told AFP that the foreign ministry had granted the special prosecutor's request after confirming Rezai's presence in the Gulf country.

The ministry "requested the collaboration of Interpol for the arrest," while Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero "instructed the Argentine ambassador in Doha... to communicate urgently with the Qatari Foreign Ministry and report on the situation," the diplomatic source told AFP.

Last January, the Argentine government voiced its anger at Rezai's presence during the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and had also condemned the Iranian's appointment as vice president in August 2021.

The government of President Alberto Fernandez said at the time that the appointment constituted "an affront to Argentine justice and to the victims of the brutal terrorist attack against the AMIA."

Rezai, who was commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps at the time of the attack, is part of a group of high-ranking Iranian officials accused by Argentina of masterminding the attack on the Jewish center.

In 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires had been the target of another attack that left 29 dead and 200 wounded, and for which no one has ever been held accountable.

Argentina has the largest Jewish community in Latin America, with some 300,000 members.