Argentine Official: No Third Party in Prosecutor’s DeathCharlie Devereux and Daniel Cancel
A preliminary autopsy showed that “no third parties” were involved in the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found Sunday evening with a gunshot wound to the head, according to a statement from the investigator.
Nisman, 51, was due to provide evidence in Congress Monday to support his allegations that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tried to absolve Iranian officials in a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires.
“The director of the judicial morgue has told a representative of the Public Prosecutor’s Office that in Nisman’s death there was no intervention of any third parties,” Viviana Fein, the lead investigator, said in a statement. “Nonetheless, the lead prosecutor is awaiting results of a series of other tests to be able to discard any other hypotheses.”
Those other tests include one to determine whether Nisman had gunpowder on his hand from firing the weapon himself, according to the statement.
Nisman was appointed by Fernandez’s late husband and former President Nestor Kirchner in 2004 to investigate the bombing of the Jewish community center. Last week Nisman accused Fernandez and her Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of trying to use an agreement signed with Iran in 2013 intended to clarify the events as a way to absolve officials in exchange for preferential trade conditions. Timerman and Argentine officials rejected the accusations.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office named Alberto Gentili as Nisman’s replacement until Jan. 31. Gentili worked with Nisman on the investigation of the 1994 bombing.
Nisman’s body was discovered by his mother and a police officer assigned to protect the prosecutor in the bathroom of his apartment alongside a gun and the shell of a bullet, according to a statement by the Security Ministry.
The two entered the apartment after repeatedly trying to contact him by telephone and by ringing the door bell. Since the door was locked from the inside, a locksmith was called to open it. Once inside, his mother and the policemen found Nisman’s body blocking the door in the bathroom.
Lawmaker Patricia Bullrich of the opposition PRO party told TN news channel Monday that she had spoken to Nisman on Jan. 17 to co-ordinate his visit to Congress.
“He told me had been threatened and that he was studying the case, that he was going to give us some very strong evidence and for that reason he had requested that the meeting should be private,” Bullrich said.
Nisman’s allegation is one of multiple court cases against Fernandez and her government that threaten to weaken her influence over elections in which a candidate for her party is tied in polls with two aspirants opposed to her government.
Argentine prosecutors in 2006 charged Iran and the Hezbollah group with organizing the 1994 bombing and issued eight arrest warrants, one of them for former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. Seven years later, Fernandez said she signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranians to set up a truth commission into the bombing.
According to Nisman, the aim of the accord was for Iranian officials to be taken off Interpol’s wanted list. In exchange, Argentina would export grains and meat to Iran and receive oil.
Timerman said Jan. 15 that the accusations were “lies” and accused Nisman of trying to stoke up sentiment against Fernandez’s government during a year in which Argentines will vote for a new president.
Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli, who plans to run for the presidency under Fernandez’s Victory Front coalition, had 24.7 percent of voter support against 23.7 percent for Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri and 17.2 percent for lawmaker Sergio Massa in a Nov. 26 to Dec. 3 poll of 2,400 people carried out by Management & Fit. The survey had a margin of error of two percentage points.
The Israeli government said in a statement that Argentine authorities should continue Nisman’s work and “make every possible effort to bring those behind the Argentina attacks to justice.”
Ariel Lijo, a judge involved in the bombing investigation, cut short his holiday to begin assessing Nisman’s accusations and called on prosecutors to seize the compact discs that contain the wiretaps.
Thousands of Argentines said they planned to hold rallies Monday following Nisman’s death to demand justice, according to postings on Facebook.
Mayor Macri also called for the accusations made by Nisman to be investigated in full.
“It can’t be that Argentina today makes worldwide news under the headline ‘the prosecutor who accused the president found dead,’” Macri said in a televised press conference.