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Argentine Congress OKs anti-terror bill with sentences for conspiracy, financing, laundering

Argentine Congress OKs anti-terror bill with sentences for conspiracy, financing, laundering

Congress approved anti-terrorism legislation on Thursday that would require lengthy prison sentences for terror financing or conspiring with terrorists.
President Nestor Kirchner is expected to sign the measure _ already approved by the Senate _ which responds to U.S. and international pressure for nations around the world to beef up laws against terrorism, terror financing and related money laundering.
The law sets out new penalties for "illicit association" with the intent to commit terrorist acts for any political, ethnic, racial or religious motivation. It also outlines prison terms for those convicted of possessing military arms, explosives, bacterial agents or chemical weapons.
Kirchner's leftist Victory Front pushed the legislation through the lower house of Congress with help of some opposition lawmakers in a 102-35 vote.
Critics fear the new law may be used to curb civil liberties in the South American nation still healing from the abuses of a seven-year dictatorship that ended in 1983; thousands of dissidents were abducted by security forces and never seen again.
Argentina currently is seeking the arrest of five prominent Iranians and a Lebanese militant in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and 200 were wounded when a van pulled up outside the seven-story building and exploded.
The legislation calls for sentences of 10 years to life in prison for illicit association with terror groups. Those who give funds or material support to such groups may be imprisoned five to 15 years.
Kirchner is expected to sign the law before the June 27 meeting of the U.S.-backed International Financial Action Group in Paris that reviews the adoption of tougher anti-terrorism money laundering laws.