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Carlos Menem faces bombing trial in Argentina

Argentina's former president Carlos Menem, 81, will stand trial for obstructing a 1994 investigation into a bombing at a Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires.

Carlos Menem faces trial ArgentinaEnlarge
Argentina's former president Carlos Menem waves at the press after taping an interview for a Chilean TV programme in Santiago, Chile, on September 9, 2004. (Victor ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina's former president Carlos Menem, 81, will stand trial for allegedly obstructing an investigation into a bombing on a Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, according to BBC News. Argentina blamed the attack, which killed 85 people, on Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

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Justice officials said Judge Ariel Lijo ordered the trial for Menem, president from 1989 until 1999, and former judge Juan Jose Galeano, who was in charge of the investigation for 10 years but was dismissed from the case in 2004, reported Agence France-Presse. Menem was initially charged in 2009 with concealing and tampering with evidence and abusing authority to cover up what was then called a "Syrian connection."

Argentinian prosecutors said Iran planned and financed the attack, and that a Hezbollah cell carried it out, according to BBC News. The prosecutors said there is evidence that Argentinian intelligence services and security forces helped cover up for local accomplices of the attackers.

Menem, who was born in Argentina to Syrian immigrants, and his former staff were previously accused of stealing evidence to hide the involvement of Syrian-Argentinian businessman Alberto Kanoore Edul in the bombing, and destroyed evidence that would have incriminated him, reported AFP. Kanoore Edul, whose family was friendly with Menem, died in 2010.

Israel's UN envoy praised Argentina for reopening the investigation into the bombing, according to Reuters.

"I think they're re-energizing" their work on the case, said Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor. "In the past there was not a real motivation to check (the facts). I see it differently today. One should give them credit for it. I see it differently today on the Argentinean side."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/argentina/120330/carlos-menem-faces-bombing-trial-argentina