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Argentina fails to persuade Swiss in Menem case

Carlos Menem is proving an elusive target for Argentinian investigators Keystone

Switzerland has thrown out another request for legal assistance from Argentina, saying investigators have failed to provide evidence against former president, Carlos Menem.

This content was published on August 27, 2002 - 14:34

Argentina is seeking Switzerland's help into a bribery probe, and has already been told twice that its case does not stand up to scrutiny.

The Swiss justice ministry said the latest appeal for assistance "fails to satisfy the conditions under which Switzerland is able to comply".

Argentina claims that the former president accepted $10 million (SFr15 million) from Iran for covering up an alleged Iranian role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people died in the bombing.

Argentina made the initial request for legal assistance last December, and was told in July that more clarification was needed.

The Swiss justice ministry said a new request, sent earlier this month, still failed "to show the connection between the judicial assistance requested and [Argentina's] own criminal investigations".

"Vague" allegations

It described the allegations against Menem as "somewhat vague", adding that the Swiss were "willing to offer extensive legal assistance" provided they were "in possession of the necessary information in accordance with international standards".

The Swiss are already investigating separate allegations that $10 million frozen in Swiss accounts linked to Menem came from suspected arms sales to Croatia and Ecuador, in defiance of a United Nations arms embargo.

Menem, 72, is running for a third term as president in 2003 after spending six months under house arrest last year on charges of arms trafficking.

The bribe issue resurfaced earlier this month when the New York Times quoted a former Iranian intelligence agent as saying Iran was responsible for the bombing and had paid Menem to cover it up.

Iran has called the claim "baseless" and Menem has said he plans to sue both the agent and the newspaper.

swissinfo with agencies

Menem brief

Switzerland says Argentina has again failed to provide evidence to support bribery allegations against former president, Carlos Menem.

Argentina claims Menem accepted $10 million (SFr15 million) for covering up an alleged Iranian role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

The Swiss are already investigating separate allegations that Menem sold arms in defiance of a UN embargo and deposited the money in Switzerland.

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