Argentinian prosecutor who accused Kirchner of cover-up in AMIA bombing case shot dead

Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian prosecutor in the AMIA bombing case, who accused the Argentinian authorities of a coverup, was found shot dead in his apartment

Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian prosecutor in the 1994 AMIA Jewish Community car-bombing case, who recently accused the Argentinian government of covering up Iran’s responsibility for the attack, was found shot dead in his apartment on Sunday, conveniently one day before he was supposed to testify in court. The Argentinian authorities are calling it a suicide, but, loth as I am to commit to conspiracy theories, his death and its timing are simply too convenient, and the forensic findings too doubtful, for it to be anything but murder.

From  The Times of Israel report:

The Argentinean prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires was found dead in his apartment on Sunday night with a gunshot wound to the head, hours before he was set to testify before lawmakers on his accusations of a cover-up by his country’s president in the case.

Argentinian media reported early Monday that Alberto Nisman, 51, was found in a pool of blood in the bathroom of his home in the capital’s Puerto Madero district. Police were investigating and Argentinian media reported that they had initially ruled the death a likely suicide.

The timing of Nisman’s death raised eyebrows, as the prosecutor had been set to speak before a congressional panel about his assertions, made public last week, that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman had covered up Iran’s involvement in the attack.

Late Sunday, federal police agents in charge of Nisman’s protection alerted their superiors that he wasn’t answering phone calls, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. When he also didn’t answer the door, they decided to alert family members, according to the statement.

When Nisman’s mother wasn’t able to open the door because a key was in the lock on the other side, a locksmith was called to open it, the ministry said. A .22 caliber handgun and a shell casing were found next to Nisman’s body.

“We can confirm that it was a gunshot wound, .22 caliber,” federal prosecutor Viviana Fein told Telam, Argentina’s official news agency. But Fein added that it was too early in the investigation to know what had happened.

It subsequently emerged that the shooting is highly unlikely to be suicide because for one thing, no gunpowder was found on Nisman’s hands:

The Argentine official in charge of the investigation into the death in suspicious circumstances of State Prosecutor Alberto Nisman has cast fresh doubt on the government’s claim that suicide was the cause. At the same time, President Cristina ​Fernández de Kirchner insinuated that a conspiracy lay behind the tragedy, rooted in a visit which Nisman made to Europe earlier this month.

Viviana Fein, the prosecutor running the inquiry into Nisman’s death, was speaking after an electronic scan was performed on Nisman’s hands to determine whether they carried traces of gunpowder. Nisman was found yesterday in the bathroom of his Buenos Aires apartment lying in a pool of blood, with a .22 caliber pistol by his side.

The scan was “unfortunately negative,” Fein said during an interview with a local radio station. Some observers immediately rounded on Fein’s use of the word “unfortunately” as inadvertently revealing the government’s determination to prove that Nisman – who was investigating the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in 1994, in which 85 people were murdered, and who had just produced a 300 page report accusing President Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, and other officials of covering up the involvement of Iran and its Hezbollah operatives in the attack – died by his own hand.

Fein also claimed that while traces of gunpowder were absent from Nisman’s body, there was no evidence of another person having been present at the scene. “We must await the results of the blood we found on the weapon and in the apartment, all that is compared directly with the DNA,” she said.

The findings disclosed by Fein today coincide with another revelation certain to damage the suicide theory. Jorge Kirzenbaum, the former head of the Argentinian Jewish communal organization DAIA, said he had spoken to a member of the Nisman family who had visited the scene of the tragedy. According to Kirzenbaum, the relative reported seeing a note that Nisman had left for his housekeeper asking her to buy food and other household items on Monday – the day that Nisman’s body was discovered, and the day he was due to appear before a parliamentary committee to outline his latest allegations. This was further proof that Nisman “had no intention of committing suicide,” Kirzenbaum said.

Days before the (presumed) murder the Algemeiner reported on how the information on the Argentinian government cover-up was obtained:

pecial prosecutor Alberto Nisman has accused Argentinian President Cristina ​Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of deliberately covering up Iranian involvement with the attack, citing phone taps as evidence.

Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Nisman had discovered a plan hatched by Kirchner to overlook Iran’s role in the atrocity, in order to “make a geopolitical move closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to establish full economic ties” for the purpose of alleviating “Argentina’s energy crisis through a ‘grain for oil’ deal.” Nisman, whose findings are summarized in a 300 page complaint, now wants to question Kirchner and other officials over whether there was an attempt to “fabricate,” as he put it, “the innocence of Iran.”

According to La Nacion, “every message from the President was communicated in detail to the fugitive Mohsen Rabbani, who was Iran’s Cultural Attache in Buenos Aires at the time of the attack.”

Some of Nisman’s evidence was culled from phone taps which came into his possession. One transcript revealed D’Elia, a former member of Kirchner’s cabinet, telling Rabbani by telephone, “I have an urgent message from the Argentine government to urgently send over to Tehran before tomorrow. I am in Government House right now. There is no matter of greater importance than this, believe me when I tell you.”

According to Nisman, his complaint “presents irrefutable evidence that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ordered Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido to meet with D’Elia, and through him, to transmit the government’s interest in swapping grain for oil.”

“The fact that Nisman is advancing these charges now indicates that he feels a much stronger degree of support from his colleagues in the judicial system than at any point in the past,” Eamonn MacDonagh, a writer and political analyst based in Buenos Aires, told The Algemeiner. “This isn’t because Argentina has had a sudden pang of conscience, but because we are dealing with a lame duck government. Come the elections in October, this government will be gone – and the judicial system has started to flex its muscles in preparation.”

Angry protest in Argentina at the suspicious death of Alberto Nisman

All of these details together: the timing, one day before Nisman was to testify about his accusations of a cover-up, the information that he had already uncovered, his domestic arrangements plus the lack of forensic evidence to prove suicide, all lead us to the inevitable conclusion that his death was a murder. The only question remaining is by whom.

Was it Iran or was it Argentina?

The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina

David Horovitz of the Times of Israel plaintively asks “Who will obtain justice for Alberto Nisman?”:

Reorienting Argentina’s policy, moving his country closer to the West and to Israel, the Syrian-born Menem had severed the hitherto fruitful partnership between Buenos Aires and Tehran on all matters nuclear, first suspending and then terminating the training of Iranian nuclear technicians in Argentina and the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran.

Previous Argentinian President Carlos Menem

Iran had brutally shown its fury at Menem’s betrayal in 1992, when it organized the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people were killed. The August 1993 meeting determined that a further terrorist assault on Menem’s country was necessary.

… A 2006 indictment in the case (PDF) names Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the head of the council, and says the final decision to attack the AMIA center was made by Khamenei and then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah terror chief routinely charged with planning such atrocities, was subsequently flown from Lebanon to Iran and given instructions to coordinate the bombing. A Hezbollah activist named Ibrahim Berro — the fourth of five siblings of a Lebanese family with a long involvement in violence against Israel — was selected as the suicide bomber.

We know all of this because of the indefatigable investigative work of one man, Alberto Nisman, who 10 years ago took over the investigation of the bombing. It was Nisman who traced the evidence, in what remains the worst-ever terrorist attack in Argentina, all the way back to that meeting of the Iranian leadership in Mashad.

We know all of this because of the indefatigable investigative work of one man, Alberto Nisman, who 10 years ago took over the investigation of the bombing. It was Nisman who traced the evidence, in what remains the worst-ever terrorist attack in Argentina, all the way back to that meeting of the Iranian leadership in Mashad.

Resolute and single-minded, Nisman also sought to bring Menem to justice for covering up Iran’s role in the AMIA bombing.This reporter interviewed the then-president in Buenos Aires days after the AMIA bombing, and while he vowed to follow the evidence wherever it led he also said he feared his own life was now in danger.

The investigation Menem ordered was branded “a national disgrace” by subsequent president Nestor Kirchner, under whose watch Nisman was appointed.

Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner

Last week, Nisman, 51, alleged that the current Argentinian president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Nestor’s widow), and her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, had worked to cover up Iran’s involvement in the attack. He said he sought to question her over the scandal.

Nisman was a man determined to follow the facts, and committed to achieving justice. When Imad Mughniyeh was killed, allegedly by Israel, in a February 2008 car-bombing in Damacus, he told me he felt no sorrow at the terror chief’s death, but neither did he feel that justice had been served.

What seems particularly tragic about the death of Alberto Nisman in Buenos Aires this week, the death of a brave, decent, seeker of justice, an honest man who would not be intimidated or deterred, is that there will be nobody of comparable caliber and guts to ensure justice for him.

Certainly the speed with which the Argentinian authorities declared Nisman’s death a suicide will hardly help their cause. On the contrary it is likely to cause an even greater backlash amongst an already angry public.  CNN has a picture gallery of scenes from the angry demonstrations after Nisman’s death was announced. The Argentinian authorities (or the Iranians) may have brought about more trouble by Nisman’s murder than if he had been allowed to testify as he had intended.

May Alberto Nisman’s memory be for a blessing and may his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

יהי זכרו ברוך

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8 Responses to Argentinian prosecutor who accused Kirchner of cover-up in AMIA bombing case shot dead

  1. Earl says:

    One would think someone of Nisman’s intellectual and professional capabilities would have left a complete post mortem dossier with a trusted associate. As a testament, just in case, as it were…

  2. Reality says:

    It said tonight on the news thst Nismans neighbour is Iranian &the back door from his house leading towards the neighbour was open, with fingerprints belonging to”unknown” persons were found on the door handle.
    Some suicide.It’s disgusting &insulting that that was even mentioned

    • anneinpt says:

      I think the Argentinian gov’t overplayed its hand here. They announced it was suicide before Nisman’s body was barely warm. It’s so blatant that the Argentinian people are protesting and they won’t let the gov’t get away with it. As I quoted above in my comment to Earl, Argentina has changed. No more dictatorial gov’t which could “disappear” people. Those days are gone and the people have changed.

      Let’s hope Nisman gets justice and that the Jewish and Israeli people get justice for those bombings.

      • cba says:

        “Nisman’s body was barely warm”
        I assume you meant “barely COLD” 🙂

        Yes, I think you’re right, they definitely overplayed their hand. Nobody buys the “suicide” joke.

        • anneinpt says:

          Oops, yes, excuse the brain-burp there! 🙂

          Kirchner is now claiming that Nisman was indeed murdered, but the reason was to smear her. I don’t buy that for one minute. Maybe it was the Iranians and not the Argentinians, but in that case they probably felt they would have immunity based on past experience with the Argentinians.

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