Argentina Tainted by Foul Play
On January 18, Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment in Buenos Aires with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Suspiciously, his death came shortly after he accused Argentinian President Cristina Fernàndez de Kirchner of aiding Iranian officials to cover up their role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. While Alberto Nisman’s death has been ruled a suicide, there are several details about his death that say otherwise.
Before his death, Alberto Nisman claimed that President Kirchner promised to help Iranian officials disguise their role in the bombing that killed 85 people in exchange for oil concessions. In his 289-page report, Nisman compiled transcripts of alleged phone calls between Iranian and Argentinian officials that reveal “secret talks” about a potential cover up and oil exchange. In the report, Nisman also accused Argentina’s foreign minister, Hèctor Timerman, of being involved in the elaborate plot. Both the president and foreign minister have denied the accusations.
Since Alberto Nisman’s death, allegations with regard to who is responsible for his death have led to a firestorm of conspiracy theories. President Kirchner initially called the death a suicide but has since changed her position and now claims that it was a plot to destabilize her government. The Argentinian government as a whole believes that Alberto Nisman’s aide, Diego Lagomarsino, may be involved in the prosecutor’s death. Only time and a lengthy investigation will shed light on those responsible for Mr. Nisman’s untimely death; however, regardless of where the fault lies, the case as it stands reeks of corruption.
A 26-page document, which called for the arrest of President Kirchner and of Argentina’s foreign minister, Hèctor Timerman, was found in the garbage at Mr. Nisman’s home. Furthermore, when Mr. Nisman’s body was discovered at his apartment, there was no evidence of a suicide note.
On February 13, nearly a month after Nisman’s death, fellow prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita decided to go forward with the investigation of President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Timerman, much to the chagrin of government officials. Pollicita is expected to present his findings to judge Daniel Rafecas, who will then decide on whether or not the case will make it to trial. While Pollicita works to try and ensure that the case makes it to trial, three additional prosecutors and one coordinator have been assigned to take over Mr. Nisman’s 10 year long investigation of the 1994 bombing.
Given the plethora of legal evidence and suspicious circumstances, it would seem likely that the case would make it to trial, but the decision ultimately rests with Judge Rafecas. President Kirchner clearly had motive to strike a deal with Iranian officials to secure oil sanctions as Argentina was in the midst of an energy crisis. The evidence surrounding the Argentinian government and officials seems to be stained by corruption and illegal activity, as does the sudden and suspicious death of Mr. Nisman. Given how the Argentinian government has behaved thus far, it would not be shocking if they were involved in his death.