Argentine government orders new investigation of 92 blast

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BUENOS AIRES — The Argentine government has decided to order a new study of the March 1992 explosion at the Israeli Embassy here.

President Carlos Menem ordered the new study, to be conducted by international experts, after Israel harshly criticized the findings of an earlier study commissioned six months ago by the Argentine Supreme Court.

Announcing some of those findings last week, the court said a three-member panel of experts had concluded the explosion was caused by explosives placed inside the embassy.

The findings contradicted earlier conclusions by Argentine, American, Israeli and European experts who said that a car bomb was used in the attack.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel's ambassador to Argentina countered the report's conclusion, saying that they did not believe that the bomb had been placed inside the building.

"We categorically reject the evaluations published by the Supreme Court in Argentina," the Foreign Ministry said last week in a statement.

The Israeli ambassador to Buenos Aires, Itzhak Aviran, was especially critical of last week's report.

"Argentine experts, police experts, Israeli experts, French experts and American experts all agree a car bomb was used," said Aviran.

"I cannot imagine how the Supreme Court can arrive at a different conclusion over four years after the explosion."

After asking Aviran "to tone down" his criticism, the Argentine government called the study "unofficial" and "just one more legal procedure in a complex case."

After a stormy Cabinet meeting on Aug. 15, Menem ordered a new study of the explosion "to settle the issue."

Cabinet members discussed taking what they called "a more active role" in the case.

The embassy bombing killed 29 people and left more than 100 injured.

The Argentine government has come under constant attack from Jewish officials here and abroad for its inability to find those responsible for the embassy attack.

The July 18, 1994 bombing of the Jewish community's headquarters here, which left 86 dead and more than 300 wounded, also remains unsolved.