Prosecutor who accused Argentinian leader of cover-up over bombing found dead

Alberto Nisman said Fernández had opened talks with Iranian group behind 1994 attack

 

An Argentinian prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernández of orchestrating a cover-up in the investigation of Iran over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre has been found dead in his apartment.

Alberto Nisman, who had been delving into the blast at the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, said on Wednesday that Fernández had opened a secret back channel to a group of Iranians suspected of planting the bomb.

He said the scheme intended to clear the suspects so Argentina could start swapping grains for much-needed oil from Iran, which denies any connection with the bombing.

“Alberto Nisman was found dead on Sunday night in his flat on the 13th floor of the tower Le Parc, in the Buenos Aires district of Puerto Madero,” the security ministry said.

The ministry said Mr Nisman’s security guards had alerted his mother on Sunday afternoon that he was not answering his front door or phone, and the Sunday papers were still on his doorstep.

Apartment locked

“Next to Nisman’s body . . . a 22-calibre handgun was found, together with a bullet casing,” the ministry statement said.

Mr Nisman, who local media said was 51, had been due to take part in a closed-door hearing in parliament today to explain his accusations against Fernández.

Secretary of national security Sergio Berni told local television that “everything indicates” Mr Nisman tok his own life.

By mid-morning the autopsy had begun, with the official cause of death expected to be announced in the days ahead.

“He was alone in the apartment,” prosecutor Viviana Fein told reporters. “There are no witnesses.”

The Clarín daily reported just a few days earlier that Nisman had told the newspaper, “I could end up dead because of this.”In a separate TV interview, he said had also been considering increasing his security detail.

Flawed evidence

Argentinian cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich had said Mr Nisman’s allegations were “crazy, absurd, illogical, irrational, ridiculous, unconstitutional”.

Argentinian courts have accused Iran of sponsoring the 1994 bombing, a charge Tehran denies. In 2007, Argentinian authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese over the bombing.

In 2013, Fernández tried to form a “truth commission” with Iran to jointly investigate. She said at the time that the pact would reactivate the inquiry, but Israel and Jewish groups said the move threatened to derail criminal prosecution of the case. The truth commission pact was struck down by an Argentinian court and never ratified by Iran.

Mr Nisman had said the commission was intended to help get the arrest warrants dropped against the Iranian suspects as a step toward normalising bilateral relations and opening the door to obtaining Iranian oil needed to help close Argentina’s $7 billion per year energy deficit.

Israel’s foreign ministry issued a statement mourning Mr Nisman’s death and urging Argentinian authorities to carry on his work. – (Reuters)