Character Attacks Greet New Leads in Nisman Case
Investigators have discovered an additional route to the apartment of Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor who was found dead in his bathroom with a gunshot wound to the temple on Sunday, January 21. It is a narrow passageway that connects the official’s Le Parc Towers residence in Buenos Aires with the neighboring apartment, in which a foreign citizen has been living.
Beside the air-conditioning units located in the passage, forensic officials discovered on Wednesday a fingerprint and a footprint, as reported by local news agency DyN. The discovery of the passage represents a third entrance to the apartment, after the front entrance and a service door.
It is as yet unconfirmed, however, whether the new pieces of evidence relate to the case, or whether they belong to an air conditioning technician, for example.
After preliminary examinations to detect the presence of gunpowder on Nisman’s hand and arm proved negative, investigating prosecutor Viviana Fein, requested that the judge in charge of the case, order a new analysis of the 22 caliber handgun found at the scene.
Fein further revealed that investigators will be taking declarations throughout Wednesday from Nisman’s domestic helper, his colleagues, and those police agents guarding him. However, she has refused to summon Sergio Berni, secretary for national security and the first official to arrive at Nisman’s house after the incident, at this juncture. (Berni arrived at approximately 1 a.m. on Monday at the apartment; the autopsy has determined that Nisman died on Sunday at around 3 p.m.)
“All the evidence points towards suicide,” Berni told press early on Monday morning. Fein, on the other hand, has preferred thus far refrained from sharing a hypothesis. The state security official has further defended his presence on the scene before any other authority as a result of “the supervision that [Nisman] was under, and the execution of all protocols to preserve the scene of the crime.”
Journalist and expert on policing matters Ricardo Canaletti told the TN news channel that Berni’s claims were “total madness,” and that the government official “juridically had no reason to be there, but politically, plenty.”
The Kirchnerist Verdict: Suicide
While deputies belonging to the governing Front for Victory (FPV) have requested for the details of the case to come to light, they take it as given that Nisman’s death was a suicide, asking “what made him take such a dramatic decision.”
“We want the truth; we call for clarity on this deed which has moved the entire country,” said Julián Dominguez, leader of the Chamber of Deputies, during a press conference. “We want to know what act or mafia group still exists that led prosecutor Nisman to take the decision that he did.”
The legislator also complained that there were “sectors of the national intelligence apparatus that are generating a climate of instability.”
Defense Minister Agustín Rossi meanwhile says that the government has taken necessary steps to guarantee suitable conditions for the investigation into Nisman’s death. However, prosecutor Nisman had accused President Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of creating a “criminal plan of impunity” to cover up for those responsible for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which claimed 85 lives.
Prosecutor Was “Pressured”
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich put another line of investigation onto the table. The top Kirchnerista official argued that the judiciary should investigate whether Nisman was the victim of “extortion” or “pressure” from former members of the Argentinean intelligence service implicated in his allegations.
In relation to the evidence that Nisman was due to formally present before Congress on Monday January 19, only hours after he was found dead, Capitanich said it was “absolutely inconsistent.”
Aníbal Fernández, secretary general of the presidency, meanwhile has highlighted Nisman’s premature return from vacation in Europe. “He returned to Argentina because they made him return, for other reasons,” Fernández stated, without specifying details.
“Why was he so desperate to return under these conditions? It can’t be understood,” added Fernández, alluding to Nisman’s denouncement of Kirchner soon after returning from abroad.
Nisman: US Intelligence Lackey?
HispanTV, an Iranian state-funded channel that broadcasts in Spanish, interviewed FPV deputy Edgardo Depetri about the death of the prosecutor. Depetri described Nisman as “a man who was close to the Israeli and US intelligence services.”
Nisman had accused Iranian officials of involvement in the 1994 attack, several of whom were briefly detained in the years that followed, although none received a sentence.
“Nisman was a regular fixture at the US embassy. His activity was public and notorious. His reasoning for working with the Iranian hypothesis was that he was a functionary of the US government,” Depetri told the channel.
Translated by Laurie Blair. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.