March 6, 2019
At 9:53 a.m. on July 18, 1994, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a suicide bomber in a Renault van detonated more than 600 pounds of explosives near the entrance to AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in English), a five-story center that has, for generations, provided and sponsored a variety of crucial services for the largest Jewish community in Latin America.
The terrorist killed himself and 85 people who were in or near the Jewish center and injured hundreds. In the nearly 25 years since, there have been trials, accusations, public demonstrations, private lawsuits, volumes of testimony, videotaped bribery, at least one suspicious death and countless articles about Argentine malfeasance and the suspected involvement of Iranian, Hezbollah and Hamas officials. To date, no one has been convicted.
“Justice” and “impunity” were key words in a symposium about the incident, held on Feb. 21 at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. The event, “25 Years After Argentina’s AMIA Bombing: Justice vs. Impunity,” featured American and Argentine speakers, mostly attorneys, many of whom have been personally involved in unsuccessful attempts to fully learn the facts and hold the perpetrators and their allies responsible, whether in Iran, Lebanon, Syria or Argentina.
The first half of the symposium took place in a large classroom. Around 50 people attended. Each presentation was followed by critiques from experts and questions from the audience. One of the presenters was Gastón Chillier, an Argentine attorney and human rights activist, who spoke from Buenos Aires via Skype. He summed up the current state of the investigation, saying, “As of this day, Argentines do not know what happened.”