A sad verdict for AMIA victims relatives

buenos aires | On July 18, 1994, Paola Czyzewski was at the AMIA Jewish community center when terrorists bombed it, killing the 21-year-old law student and 84 other people.

Ten years later, the Czyzewski family — like most of the victims’ relatives — did not come to an Argentine federal courthouse Thursday, Sept. 2, to hear that the only people accused so far in the attack — locals accused as accessories — had been acquitted.

“We had dinner at home. The atmosphere was tense,” Luis Czyzewski, Paola’s father, said. “I received the news badly. We somehow expected a conviction.”

The Argentine Jewish community planned a demonstration against the acquittals in Buenos Aires. All of the local Jewish groups, some of which have been at odds over strategies to find those responsible for the attack, sponsored the rally.

Ten years after the worst terrorist attack in Argentina’s history and the biggest anti-Semitic attack since World War II, no one has been brought to justice — and there isn’t even any tangible proof about how the building was bombed.

The court record will be officially presented on Oct. 29. In some parts of it made available after the verdict was announced, the judges declared that a van was used to bomb the building, but the way the investigation was carried out made it impossible to find the defendants guilty.

The three federal court judges decided unanimously not only to let the defendants go free, but also to investigate politicians, legislators, judges, prosecutors and lawyers for allegedly derailing the investigation.

The president of AMIA, Abraham Kaul, left the courtroom by a side door to avoid the media.

“The fact that a democratic country cannot find justice for such an attack is something of strong concern,” Kaul said.

In a court balcony, a dozen or so journalists shared files with relatives of four police officers who were among the defendants. Their happiness at the acquittal contrasted with the anguish showed by two Jewish grandmothers.

“I wouldn’t be able to stand this if I hadn’t taken sedative pills,” Eugenia Szejer said.

Sergio Widder, the Latin American representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the verdict “is for Jews the confirmation of Argentine society’s failure to find justice.”