Nisman’s death to be investigated as homicide after ex-spy’s testimony

Alberto Nisman speaking at a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 20, 2009. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Nisman speaking at a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 20, 2009. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) – Former Argentine spymaster Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso accused the government of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of being responsible for the murder of Alberto Nisman.

Stiuso, the former operations chief of the Intelligence Secretariat, or SI, the country’s spy agency, testified for more than 15 hours on Tuesday in connection with the death of Nisman, the AMIA Jewish centre bombing special prosecutor. Stiuso had assisted Nisman in the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.

Nisman was found shot and killed in the bathroom of his apartment on Jan. 18, 2015.

Stiuso’s testimony, some of which leaked during the day, was not released because Judge Fabiana Palmaghini placed a gag order on the investigation.

Argentinean media reported, however, that Stiuso said that the late AMIA prosecutor’s death “was intimately linked with the complaint that he made.”

Nisman’s lawsuit claimed that the government of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner decided to “not incriminate” former senior officials of Iran and tried to “erase” their roles in planning the bombing.

Ten hours after hearing Stiuso’s testimony Palmaghini declared herself “unfit” to continue with the case, and decided that it would be investigated by a federal court. The judge also lodged a complaint against Prosecutor Viviana Fein for allegedly failing to register information, including some data provided by Stiuso in his first testimony in the Nisman investigation made in February 2015.

The change of jurisdiction was requested less than a week ago by Ricardo Sáenz, the attorney general for Argentina’s Criminal Appeals Court, who also asserted that Nisman was murdered. In a letter to the judges, Sáenz wrote that a federal magistrate “has the broadest jurisdiction to clarify which of all the assumptions” into Nisman’s death are correct.

Nisman’s body was found hours before he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. According to Stiuso, the AMIA prosecutor was murdered for not stopping the investigation of AMIA bombing, as Kirchner had requested. “She decided to negotiate the pact with Iran and ordered the SI to stop providing evidence or information to the AMIA case,” Stiuso reportedly said Tuesday during his testimony.

According to Palmaghini, some evidence at Nisman’s apartment could have been tampered with before Fein’s arrival at the scene, since at least 20 people, including former security secretary Sergio Berni , entered the apartment the night that Nisman’s body was discovered.

Also Tuesday, addressing the first session of the national Parliament, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said: “Let’s not forget that little more than a year ago prosecutor Alberto Nisman turned up dead in circumstances that remain uncertain but that are slowly starting to clear up.”

The president did not explicitly mention the change in venue of the case, or that the focus of the investigation has turned more to the homicide theory, rather than suicide or uncertainty as previously argued by prosecutor Fein.

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