Police arrest suspect in Buenos Aires attack on Jews

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine police have arrested a man believed to be a key link in the July 1994 bombing of the Jewish headquarters in Buenos Aires.

The arrest of Alejandro Monjo on Wednesday of last week followed a 48-hour manhunt that involved hundreds of police personnel. Monjo was detained on charges of tax evasion and dealing with stolen cars.

Judge Juan Jose Galeano, the official in charge of the investigation of the bombing of Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association, said Monjo is believed to be the link to local groups that participated in the bombing that left 86 people killed and more than 300 wounded.

Monjo is suspected of having provided the Renault van used as a car bomb more than a year ago. His offices and home were raided by police two days before his arrest, and an arrest warrant followed.

Monjo's arrest was the latest in a series of arrests linked to the case made in recent days.

Some 20 people were arrested on Monday of last week after police carried out searches of private homes, car-repair shops and businesses of people who may have been involved in the July 18, 1994 attack.

Police also seized several boxes of documents, including tax records of potential suspects.

The Argentine media has highlighted the fact that the long-dormant terror-bombing case suddenly came to life after the Sept. 28 hearings of the U.S. House International Relations Committee, in which Argentine and American Jewish officials and security personnel criticized the handling of the case by the Argentine government.

Faced with harsh criticism from Washington, D.C., Argentina has been considering lodging a formal protest against the United States.

Galeano refused to comment on the operations, but one of his prosecutors, Eamon Mullen, said the car-repair shops and offices searched belonged to "friends and associates" of Carlos Alberto Telleldin, the one person who had been detained in the case prior to this week.

Telleldin has denied any involvement with a terrorist cell. Two weeks ago, he told Galeano that he would give "more information in exchange for $300,000, a new identity for me and my family and police protection."

Argentina has no witness-protection program, and prosecutors are barred by law from granting immunity to alleged felons.

Telleldin also told Galeano that he had received death threats from police in the Buenos Aires province.

Galeano subsequently removed Telleldin from a downtown jail and placed him in an isolation block in a more secure lockup.