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Ex-Iran minister denies involvement in Argentine Jewish centre bombings

Public denial by two Iranian officials marks latest development in the case of 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish cultural center bombing
Nisman speaks to reporters at a press conference (AFP)

A former Iranian foreign minister has denied that Iran was involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina, following renewed interest in the case after the death of an investigator.

Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's foreign minister in 1994 and current foreign affairs adviser to the country's supreme leader, described allegations of Iranian involvement in the attack that killed 85 people and injured hundreds as "unfounded, false" and a "lie".

"I am innocent. These charges are baseless, and we need not answer to foreign countries," he said, in an interview in Tehran on Monday by an Argentine C5N news team.

The programme also featured Mohsen Rabbani, the cultural attache from Iran's embassy in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires in the 1990s, who also denied involvement in the attack.

Argentine courts have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians allegedly involved in the attack, but the Islamic Republic has so far refused the requests.

The death of Alberto Nisman, a leading prosecutor in the case, in January threw the case back into the public consciousness after years of stalled investigations.

Nisman died the evening before he was set to testify in a congressional hearing about the case, leading his family to label his death an assassination.

Days earlier, Nisman had also filed a report claiming that Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner had protected Iranian officials accused of orchestrating the bombing.

Courts have twice thrown out the accusations against the president.

An independent report produced by Nisman's family in March claimed that Nisman's death - originally ruled a suicide - was in fact murder.

“Nisman did not have an accident, he did not commit suicide, Nisman was murdered," said Nisman’s ex-wife, Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, to a room of reporters. "It constitutes a magnicide of unknown proportions for this country."

Following Nisman's death, thousands of Argentine Jews took to the streets of Buenos Aires to protest against what they allege was Nisman's murder.

"We will not allow another investigating prosecutor to die," Julio Schlosser, a leader of Argentina's Jewish community, which is Latin America's largest, told AFP.