Sulaymanpour, a research student at Durham University in northeast England, is being detained by British police after they received a formal extradition warrant from Argentine authorities. He will appear before magistrates on Friday.

Magistrates will decide whether to extradite him to Argentina to face charges of conspiracy in the car bomb attack which killed 85 people and maimed a further 300, Argentina’s worst ever terrorist incident.

 “He participated in a very concrete way in organising the attack,” Marta Nercellas, the lawyer representing the AMIA centre in Buenos Aires, told Argentine television in an interview.

“The (Iranian) embassy in Argentina was used as the base from which they gathered intelligence information that had to do with the massacre," she added.

Further extradition requests

Extradition proceedings have also been launched against seven other Iranian officials in connection with the attack. Argentine and Jewish leaders have long proclaimed Iran’s involvement in the attacks - a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

The Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association building was the focal point for Jews living in the Buenos Aires. Argentina is home to Latin Americas largest Jewish population, estimated at around 300,000.

There was no immediate Iranian reaction to Sulaymanpour's arrest, but last week Tehran condemned the Argentinian request as part of “international Zionism's plan to manipulate Argentina”.

Drive to heal wounds

The other warrants issued by investigating Judge Juan Jose Galeano were for Ahmad Reza Asghari, Hossein Ali Cabrizi, Masoud Amiri, Seyed Yousef Arabi, Ahmad Alamolhoda, Mahmoud Monzavizadeh and Saied Baghban.

Iran maintains a representative presence in Argentina though it no longer has an embassy there.

This is the latest in a series of extradition requests issued by Argentine authorities, who are following up on President Nestor Kirchner's drive to heal national wounds.

The country’s parliament yesterday repealed a law prohibiting prosecution of people who committed human rights abuses during the “dirty war” of 1976-1983.

An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people were executed during the dictatorship years of Jorge Rafael Videla. The majority were kidnapped and their bodies never recovered.