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  HOME | Argentina

Argentine Probe Finds Only Prosecutor’s DNA on Gun

BUENOS AIRES – The only DNA found on the gun that killed Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman belonged to the deceased, the person directing the investigation said Friday.

Nisman was found fatally shot on Jan. 18, hours before he was supposed to brief Argentina’s Congress about his accusations that President Cristina Fernandez and other officials sought to conceal the involvement of Iran in a deadly 1994 terrorist attack targeting a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires.

The prosecutor died of a single shot to the temple, fired at point-blank range from a .22-caliber pistol that was found under his body in the bathroom of his apartment.

Nisman, who had a 10-person police security detail, borrowed the gun from a colleague.

Laboratory analysis determined “categorically” that all of the DNA found on the gun, ammunition cartridge, bullets and shell-casings belonged to Nisman, prosecutor Viviana Fein said Friday in a statement.

At the time of his death, Nisman was seeking to indict Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and five other people in connection with his probe of the car-bomb attack that left 85 dead at the offices of the Jewish organization AMIA.

Investigators have labeled the case a “suspicious death.”

Fein said her office’s technical staff have informed her that the stairways of Nisman’s apartment building do not have security cameras, while the camera mounted in the elevator was out of service the day of the prosecutor’s death.

She said she took statements on Friday from the people who manage the computer network in the office of the special prosecutor for the AMIA case.

Nisman, 51, was laid to rest Thursday at a Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

The Argentine government rejected on Friday a U.S. lawmaker’s call for an international enquiry into Nisman’s death.

Argentina “is an autonomous and independent country,” Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said during his daily press briefing, calling Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposal the expression of an “imperial vision” that “ignores the principal of national self-determination.”

Rubio, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that he was “deeply concerned about the ability of the government of Argentina to conduct a fair and impartial investigation.”

The senator’s call for an international investigation is an “unwarranted intrusion appropriate to an imperial attitude that represents the most recalcitrant Republican right,” Capitanich said.

The charges against Fernandez and Timerman were based on intercepts of telephone conversations about efforts “to erase Iran from the AMIA case,” Nisman’s office said Jan. 14 in a statement.

The government wanted to eliminate any obstacle to forging closer trade and economic ties with Tehran, the prosecutor said.

Timerman – himself a member of Argentina’s Jewish community – reacted angrily to the accusations, labeling Nisman a liar and saying that the prosecutor allowed himself to be unduly influenced by Jaime Stiuso, recently fired as chief of operations for the intelligence service.

Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran’s Hezbollah allies.

Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement and some have pointed out that the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency, both with an interest in blackening the reputation of Tehran.

To the indignation of many, both in Argentina and abroad, prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction in the case.

In September 2004, 22 people accused in the bombing were acquitted after a process plagued with delays, irregularities and tales of witnesses’ being paid for their testimony.

The attack against the AMIA building was the second terrorist strike against Jewish targets in Argentina. In March 1992, a car bomb was detonated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and wounding more than 100 others.

Opinion of Judge Lijo on Prosecutor Nisman 2 February 2015 by Latin American Herald Tribune

 

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