BUENOS AIRES , Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The trial of former Argentine President Carlos Menem and 12 others, accused of obstructing justice in a 1994 attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish center, began Thursday.
The blast, in which a bomb-packed van killed 85 people and destroyed the six-story Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, remains unsolved and no one has been arrested, but former President Menem, 85, and 12 associates, including a former intelligence chief and a former federal judge are charged with obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence, among other charges.
Prosecutors allege Menem, who is of Syrian descent, steered investigators away from linking the incident to a suspected participant, Syrian-born Alberto Kanoore Edul.
Current Argentinian President Christina Fernandez is supportive of the case, although she was accused by prosecutor Alberto Nisman of attempting to cover it up; although it has been suspected Iran was behind the attack on the Jewish center.
Nisman claimed Fernandez sought to have the case remain unsolved as she arranged an economic deal between Iran and cash-strapped Argentina, and exchange of Iranian oil for Argentinian meat and grain.
Nisman, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, was found dead in January with a gunshot wound to his head, the day before she was scheduled to testify before Congress about Kirchner's alleged attempt to sabotage his investigation by hiding Iran's involvement.
"The ability to obtain evidence needed to uncover the Syrian connection was stifled for five years, frustrating the search for truth," the indictment against Menem reads in part.