Police hid evidence in blast, judge says

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BUENOS AIRES — The official in charge of the investigation into the July 1994 bombing of the Jewish community headquarters here has alleged that an Argentine police unit withheld evidence.

Judge Juan Jose Galeano charged this week that members of the Constitutional Order Protection Unit of the Federal Police had "stolen and hid material evidence relevant to the investigation of the AMIA bombing."

Galeano asked his colleague Judge Maria Servini de Cubria to "investigate these charges and prosecute the parties involved."

The Argentine government has failed to find the terrorists responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Mutual Aid Association, or AMIA. The blast left 86 dead and 300 wounded.

The government has also failed to find those responsible for the March 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy.

The Constitutional Order Protection Unit, or POC, was created a few years ago as an elite intelligence and investigative unit.

Its mission is to uncover conspiracies against Argentine democracy.

After the AMIA bombing, the POC was assigned to the case.

The crimes allegedly carried out by members of the POC took place in October 1995, when police raided the house and offices of used car dealer Alejandro Monjo.

Monjo was allegedly involved in the sale of the white Renault used as a car bomb in the AMIA attack. He was allegedly tipped off about the raids and could only be captured after a week at large.

Police sources said at the time that Monjo, who was alleged to have bought police protection, had been warned beforehand by friends and police partners.

During the raids, judiciary officials impounded several boxes of files belonging to Monjo.

An unidentified official saw a "gold-plated key ring with the federal police shield engraved on one side and Monjo's name and a date on the other."

The key ring was a "good fellowship" award given to Monjo by the Grand Auto Thievery Investigation division of the federal police.

According to Galeano, the key ring and several impounded files never made it to his offices.

Galeano reportedly asked Servini to investigate this and other allegations of police misconduct during the AMIA investigation.