Official Report: Death of Argentine Prosecutor in 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish Center Bombing Case Was Result of Murder, Not Suicide
A long-awaited official report has concluded that late Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered, contradicting previous government claims that he committed suicide.
Nisman was engaged in a long investigation into the bombing of the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 85 people. The prosecutor concluded that the perpetrators were Iranian agents, and issued international warrants for several of them. In 2015, he announced he was bringing charges against then-President Cristina Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, for collaborating with Iran to thwart the investigation.
A day before Nisman was due to testify before the Argentine Congress on his findings, he was found shot dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. His death was originally declared a suicide.
The new report from Argentina’s Gendarmaria Nacional rejects this, concluding that the evidence shows that Nisman was beaten, drugged, and then shot execution style. The Daily Beast reports,
Nisman was assaulted by two individuals, presumably both men. His nose was broken, his kidney bruised, and he had blows to his left ankle and the back of his head. The .22 caliber bullet travelled from right to left, back to front, bottom to top, at an angle of 10 to 12 degrees. The pattern of blood spattered in the bathroom indicates he was on his knees, not his feet, when he was shot. There was no powder residue found on his hands.
Fellow prosecutor Ricardo Saenz commented on the report, “These revelations prove serious irregularities in the only autopsy that was conducted and in the subsequent investigations, where somehow these wounds were not detected.”
More importantly, he said, the report finally gives official recognition to the charge of murder. “This is the most serious examination of Nisman’s death, performed by an interdisciplinary panel, and it ratifies that we are talking about homicide,” he stated. “That, plus the fact it was perpetrated by two people.”
The report also points to a possible suspect in the killing: Diego Lagomarsino, a computer technician employed by Nisman, who claimed that he gave a weapon to the prosecutor in the days before his death.
“Now that we are dealing with homicide,” Saenz stated, “the individual bringing the gun is transformed into a participant in murder, who will have to demonstrate that he was carrying a weapon he didn’t know would be used by another person to kill Nisman. We always said his version was flimsy; his situation today as a suspect is very serious.”
Ultimately, however, suspicion may fall on some of Argentina’s most prominent leaders. Gabriel Bracesco, the author of a book on Nisman’s death, commented, “We still are in time to uncover who interceded to conceal and destroy evidence. These accusations may reach the highest levels of the Kirchner regime: Cristina Kirchner herself, her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, Sergio Berni, who was head of intelligence.”
Nonetheless, there is a long road ahead in the investigation. “In legal terms,” said expert Eamonn McDonagh, “nothing has changed yet.” The investigating prosecutor Eduardo Taiano “has to decide what course of action to take based on” the report. The investigating federal judge must then classify the case as a murder investigation.
When the judge “signs a resolution to the effect that it’s a murder investigation then it is, not before,” McDonagh explained.
Furthemore, McDonagh said, “Lagomarsino’s lawyers are very likely to appeal against the Gendarmaria report being accepted as final. And if they lose the appeal they’ll keep on filing objections in higher courts. This could delay matters considerably.”
McDonagh also warned against prematurely implicating Iran in the Nisman killing. “There’s no reason to think it was the Iranians,” he says, “though of course they would have been delighted to see him dead.”