In the accusation Nisman filed before his death — an alleged draft of which was published on Sunday, February 1, in Argentinean daily Clarín — the prosecutor wrote that Venezuela’s then-ambassador to Argentina, Roger Capella, had in 2006 contributed to the cover-up of the 1994 AMIA terrorist attack.
According to Nisman’s evidence, the Venezuelan diplomat helped foment protests against the arrest of Iranian suspects ordered by the Argentinean judiciary.
“The demonstration against the Argentinean court’s ruling was carried out by the Iranian embassy, headed by Luis D’Elía — supported by Iran’s middleman in Argentina, Jorge Alejandro “Yussuf” Khalil — and promoted by then-Venezuelan ambassador to Buenos Aires, Roger Capella,” Nisman wrote.
This Venezuelan diplomat was very close to Tehran, and in those years he already favored strengthening relations with Iran.
Luis D’Elía, a prominent supporter of President Cristina Kirchner and the leader of a union of unemployed workers, dealt with Iranian officials on behalf of the Kirchner administration through back channels in a sort of “unofficial embassy,” Nisman explained.
Regarding Ambassador Capella, the document reads: “This Venezuelan diplomat was very close to Tehran, and in those years he already favored strengthening relations with Iran, Iranian suspects in the AMIA case, and local political activists such as Luis D’Elía.”
A new judge has yet to take up the prosecutor’s criminal complaint, since judges Ariel Lijo and Daniel Rafecas have both refused to take the case. Nisman alleged that President Cristina Kirchner, along with Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and Luis D’Elía, had struck a deal with the Iranian government to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in return for cheap oil.
Argentinean Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman dismissed Nisman’s claims in a January 30 interview with US radio station NPR, arguing that he had enough evidence to prove they were “false or at least wrong.”
Nisman accused me of something that I couldn’t legally do
“I never asked Interpol to do that,” Timerman said in response to claims that he gave orders to drop Interpol arrest orders for several Iranian suspects.
“Nisman accused me of something that I couldn’t legally do … It’s impossible because only a judge could have ordered it,” he added.
He likewise dismissed the theory that Argentina had secured a preferential oil-grain exchange with Tehran, in return for obscuring Iran’s involvement in the bombing: “Anyone who knows anything about the oil business knows that Argentina can’t use Iran’s oil because it’s too heavy, and we can’t process it [in Argentina].”
Clarín Feels the Government’s Wrath
Argentinean chief of staff Jorge Capitanich departed from usual procedure during a morning press conference on January 2, when he shredded several pages of local newspaper Clarín, claiming that its coverage of Nisman’s accusations was “not truthful.”
Among the pages ripped up by the Argentinean official was the article published on February 1 in which reporters Daniel Santoro and Nicolás Wiñazki released a discarded draft of the criminal complaint Nisman had filed on January 13.
— Cooperativa (@Cooperativa) February 2, 2015
“A complaint from prosecutor Nisman that called for Cristina Kirchner’s arrest, found in the trash.”
The document found in the trash can beside Nisman’s desk after his death calls for the arrest of Cristina Kirchner, Héctor Timerman, and Luis D’Elía. However, the complaint that made it to the justice system only requests the president’s testimony. Both the discarded version and the final draft have now become evidence in the AMIA investigation.
“Political confrontation will translate into a clash in the media now, and we’re ready, because we firmly believe in freedom of speech,” concluded Capitanich.
Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.