Ex-Wife Says Argentine Prosecutor in Bomb Probe Was MurderedCharlie Devereux
The prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up for the alleged perpetrators of Argentina’s deadliest terrorist attack was murdered, his ex-wife said after investigating the evidence.
Sandra Arroyo Salgado, a judge, said the independent probe she headed concluded that Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment from a shot to the head on Jan. 18, didn’t commit suicide and that it wasn’t an accident. The team of experts commissioned believes Nisman’s body was moved after his death, she told a press conference in Buenos Aires.
“Nisman was killed,” said Arroyo Salgado. “The investigation was conclusive.”
Fernandez, who first suggested Nisman killed himself before implying he was killed by rogue intelligence agents seeking to frame her government, has seen her approval ratings fall as a result of Nisman’s death and the accusations he levied against her. While Viviana Fein, the prosecutor assigned to investigate the death, hasn’t ruled out any explanation, Arroyo Salgado said she believes the official investigation is trying to conclude that he killed himself.
Nisman died the day before he was due to present evidence for his accusations to lawmakers.
Judge Daniel Rafecas last week dismissed charges first raised by Nisman that Fernandez sought to remove Interpol arrest warrants against Iranian officials alleged to be involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. Gerardo Pollicita, a fellow prosecutor, appealed the decision Wednesday and a four-man chamber of appeals must now decide whether to uphold the dismissal.
Arroyo Salgado, who said she assembled the team of investigators that included Osvaldo Raffo, a forensics expert, as well as a criminologist, a doctor, a psychiatrist and an IT specialist, said two ballistics reports had found no traces of gunpowder on Nisman’s hand. The official investigation had said the ballistics test was inconclusive.
The investigation also found there were very few traces of alcohol or tranquilizers in Nisman’s body, contradicting reports by state media yesterday that high levels of alcohol were found in his stomach.
Arroyo Salgado criticized Fein for failing to inform Nisman’s family about their right to participate in the autopsy or to propose an independent pathologist to take part on their behalf.
“The absence of independent investigators in the autopsy resulted in partial and incorrect conclusions that have contributed to the impunity of the perpetrator,” Arroyo Salgado said.
Fein said today that she will look at Salgado Arroyo’s findings to see if they match her own.
As a plaintiff, Arroyo Salgado “is part of the case and has every right to present what she has,” Fein said on Radio Nacional. “My obligation is to analyze it.”
Arroyo Salgado’s conclusions could be damaging for candidates from Fernandez’s political party vying to succeed her in elections scheduled for October, said Raul Aragon, a political consultant at Raul Aragon y Asociados. Fernandez is barred by law from running for another term.
Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri of the opposition PRO party had 27 percent of voter preferences against 22 percent for Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli, who is aiming to run for Fernandez’s Victory Front party, according to a poll by Aragon. Sergio Massa, a former cabinet chief under Fernandez who now leads a dissident wing of the Peronist movement, had 21 percent.
The poll also found that 35 percent of people polled believe the government had a hand in Nisman’s death, while 36 percent didn’t know who was responsible.
The nationwide poll of 3,002 people carried out Feb. 20-28 had a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points.
“This is bad news for the government because Nisman’s ex-wife has no motive to lie,” Aragon said by phone from Buenos Aires. “It’s going to be very difficult to say she’s lying.”