Argentina’s president says prosecutor’s death was not suicide

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner alleges killing part of conspiracy to smear her name

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina,   said the death of a prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish community centre was not a suicide. Photographer: Diego Giudice/Bloomberg

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina, said the death of a prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish community centre was not a suicide. Photographer: Diego Giudice/Bloomberg

 

Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said the death of a prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish community centre was not a suicide, as was initially reported.

Alberto Nisman, lead investigator into the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish centre that killed 85 people, was found dead in his apartment late Sunday, with a 22-calibre pistol at his side.

He had accused Ms Fernández de Kirchner of trying to derail his investigation into the bombing and was due to present his case to Argentina’s congress hours later on Monday.

The government said two men who Mr Nisman believed were involved in an alleged cover-up of the 1994 attack had been falsely presented to him as state intelligence agents.

Ms Fernández de Kirchner said the deception discredited Mr Nisman’s charges against her and points to a conspiracy to smear her name.

“They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead,” she said in a post on Facebook, adding that his death was “sad and terrible”.

The president did not say who killed him and no one has been arrested in the case, which has shocked Argentina. Social media networks are full of conspiracy theories, some pointing at the president and her government.

Thousands took to the streets this week to protest the slow pace of justice for the victims of the bombing and demanding answers to the questions around Mr Nisman’s death.

With the economy shrinking and inflation in double digits, the case has further weakened the president’s popularity and is expected to help pro-market opposition candidates like Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri in the presidential election in October.

President criticised

Ms Fernández de Kirchner has been in office for seven years but is barred from running for a third consecutive term. The opposition have criticised her for not going on television to address the scandal.

Argentine courts have accused a group of Iranians of planting the AMIA bomb. Mr Nisman accused the president last week of opening a secret back channel to Tehran as part of a plot to clear the suspects in the attack.

The prosecutor alleged the president was pushing to normalise relations with Iran as a step towards securing a grains-for-oil deal that would help Argentina close its large per year energy deficit.

The government dismissed the charge as ridiculous, suggesting that the incident was the result of a power struggle at Argentina’s intelligence agency.

Antonio Stiusso, a senior Argentine spy, was fired in a December shake-up of the agency, where one of his duties was to help Mr Nisman with the investigation into the 1994 bombing.

The government says it was Mr Stiusso who told Mr Nisman that the two men who helped him build his case of a cover-up were state intelligence agents.

The man who lent Mr Nisman the gun used to kill him has reportedly said Mr Nisman was warned by Mr Stiusso to take steps to protect himself from his own state-assigned bodyguards.

The president said on Thursday that the 10 bodyguards would be investigated.

Reuters