Israelis blast Argentinas bomb probe

BUENOS AIRES — Israeli diplomatic officials will do "their utmost" to prevent the Argentine Supreme Court from closing its investigation of the March 17, 1992 bombing that destroyed the Israeli Embassy here, according to highly placed diplomatic sources.

After more than three years of fruitless inquiries, the Supreme Court justice in charge of the case, Ricardo Levene, resigned in mid-November from the court, which took over the investigation.

Twenty-nine people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the 1992 embassy blast.

Late last month, the court announced that "unless the parties involved or the attorney general of Argentina comes up with new information," the investigation will be closed in March.

Although the Israeli Embassy did not comment on the decision, diplomatic sources said Israeli officials found the court's decision to close the case "preposterous" and that Israel would "do everything to keep the case open."

Israel recently criticized Argentina for the lack of results in the investigation.

In November, Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Aviran said the Argentine Supreme Court "couldn't handle a case like this."

Jewish officials here and abroad have also been critical of the investigation of the July 18, 1994 bombing that destroyed the headquarters of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association, or AMIA, leaving 86 dead and more than 300 wounded.

This week, the official in charge of the investigation of the AMIA bombing, Judge Juan Jose Galeano, asked for "more legal resources" to solve the case.

In a long resolution ordering the prosecution of 12 former and active military personnel on allegedly selling illegal weapons and explosives, Galeano asked to have a witness-protection program and requested the use of "covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups."

Earlier this month, Argentine police arrested 15 people, including at least eight members of the army, in an attempt to establish the source of the explosives used in the AMIA bombing.

Under Argentine law, a judge can offer little protection to a key witness, prosecutors cannot make deals with alleged criminals and it is illegal to use covert agents as infiltrators.

The request by Galeano was considered "highly unusual" by judicial sources, who saw it as "a sign of frustration."

After 17 months, investigators have failed to solve the AMIA case.