No Gunpowder Found on Nisman’s Hands, Investigating Prosecutor Reveals; Argentine President Implies Global Conspiracy at Work
by Ben Cohen
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.
Aníbal Fernández, the secretary-general of the presidency, continued to claim that Nisman’s death was a suicide, adding that this hypothesis had been proven “scientifically.” His boss, President Fernández de Kirchner, issued a lengthy and rambling statement in which she implied that larger, hidden forces were at work. She said that Nisman had traveled to Paris for a family vacation around the same time as the terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and had unexpectedly returned to Buenos Aires the day after world leaders gathered for a unity rally in the French capital. (In Argentina, January and the early part of February are official judicial vacation periods.)
The president then outlined what she described as a number of outstanding questions.
“Why did [Nisman] return unexpectedly early from his vacation on January 12, leaving his daughter at Barajas airport [in Madrid?]” she asked. “Who could believe that anybody would go on vacation before submitting a 350 page report making grave allegations against the president and against a foreign minister [Timerman] who is Jewish and professes the Jewish faith?”
“Could it be that someone else prepared the complaint for him and gave it to him when he came back, which in one of those rare coincidences was the day after the march in France against terrorism?” she asked. “Is it a coincidence that on January 12, the day the prosecutor unexpectedly returned to the country, the newspaper Clarín carried a headline, ‘More than 4 million march against terror in France?'”
Eamonn MacDonagh, a writer and political analyst based in Buenos Aires, told The Algemeiner that President Fernández de Kirchner’s remarks reflected the belief of her political allies that Nisman’s work was being directed from abroad. “This is a widely held view by followers of the government; that Nisman was working for the Mossad, or the CIA, or some combination of foreign intelligence services,” MacDonagh said. “She’s basically saying that Nisman returned from Paris on the orders of his superiors, whom she doesn’t explicitly name, but we can all guess whom she’s referring to.”
Last night, thousands of protestors gathered in Buenos Aires and other cities to protest Nisman’s death and challenge government claims of a suicide. Many of them carried signs declaring “Yo Soy Nisman” (“I am Nisman,”) a deliberate reference to the “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) slogan used to declare solidarity with Charlie Hebdo following the attack in Paris.