An Argentine judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing at a Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to a judicial source.
The order also removes the judicial immunity of Kirchner, who served as president from 2007-2015 and is now a senator.
Kirchner, who is facing trial in several other cases involving corruption and money-laundering stemming from her years as president, has previously called the case an "absurdity."
"As happens regularly in Argentina, the news was first leaked to the press and Cristina has not yet been notified," an aide to the former president told AFP.
Judge Claudio Bonadio is backing an assertion by former prosecutor Alberto Nisman that a 2013 agreement with Iran, which was portrayed as a joint attempt to solve the case, in reality ensured that the Iranians involved would never be prosecuted. The deal was approved by Congress, but was later declared unconstitutional by the courts.
Kirchner, 64, who had two four-year terms in office, is due to take her seat in the Senate next week after her election victory in October crowned a political comeback and granted her immunity from imprisonment in several corruption cases.
The judge asked lawmakers to remove Kirchner's immunity from arrest. He also ordered the arrest of several aides and allies of Kirchner, including former presidency Secretary Carlos Zannini and activist Luis D'Elia on the same charges. Former Foreign Minister Hector Timerman was ordered held under house arrest due to health issues.
Additionally, the ex-head of the Federal Intelligence Agency, Oscar Parrilli, was ordered not to leave the country.
Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano said the charge of treason carries a potential prison sentence of 10 to 25 years while aggravated cover-up has a six-year penalty. A vote of two thirds of the Senate would be required to remove Kirchner's immunity from prosecution.
Argentina's top criminal court last year accepted a request by a coalition of Jewish associations to re-examine the charge against Kirchner, Timerman and other officials originally made by Nisman on January 14, 2015.
Judge Bonadio took over the case four days later when, in a sinister turn of events, Nisman was mysteriously found dead in his home with a gunshot to the head.
The initial police reports and autopsies found no sign anyone else had been present when Nisman died, and federal police said the prosecutor shot himself.
But Taiano said in November that a re-examination of the evidence showed that Nisman was murdered.
Kirchner and the other defendants have repeatedly denied wrongdoing or involvement in any cover-up involving Argentina's worst terror attack, the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AIMA) center in Buenos Aires. Investigators have linked former Iranian officials to the attack, but Iran has denied any connection with the attack and declined to turn over suspects.