LATIN AMERICA

Protests in Argentina over Nisman case

Demonstrators call for investigation into the death of the prosecutor

reuters

Thousands of protestors banging pots and pans took part in marches in Buenos Aires, Salta, Mendoza and other cities throughout the country on Monday to show their discontent over the death of Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor who had accused President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other government officials of conspiring to cover up the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center. In the capital’s Plaza de Mayo, demonstrators who had responded to a call to protest put out via social media platforms held up posters that said: “I am Nisman,” alluding to the slogan “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” which became popular after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Nisman’s body was found in the bathroom of his home in Buenos Aires on Sunday. The door was locked from the inside and he had not picked up his daily newspapers. The 51-year-old attorney was due to appear before a commission on penal legislation in the House of Representatives on Monday at the request of several opposition groups to explain why he had filed a lawsuit against President Fernández de Kirchner and some of her associates, whom he accused of “deciding, negotiating and organizing the impunity of the Iranian fugitives” accused of the 1994 attack against the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead.

Argentinean federal judge Ariel Lijo cut his vacation short in order to take over the case

The divorced father of two was appointed by President Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) to investigate the attack against AMIA and had been the special prosecutor on the case since 2004. He had an excellent relationship with the Kirchner administration until President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Iran signed an agreement in January 2013 to investigate the 1994 attack without Nisman’s knowledge. Once the news was announced, he expressed his opposition to the deal.

The Argentinean attorney based his criminal complaint against Fernández on several wiretaps. He had written a 300-page report that he did not publish because it contained the names of several intelligence service agents. Still, in the summary of the report, he accused the president of orchestrating a parallel diplomatic scheme to negotiate with Iran in exchange for oil. On October 5, 2006, Nisman formally filed a complaint against Iran accusing the state of masterminding the bombing and accusing Hezbollah of carrying it out. He asked the court for warrants for the arrest of five Iranians and one Lebanese national. According to Nisman, the alleged negotiations between Fernández and Iran took place after they had signed a pact in January 2013 that Tehran has yet to ratify.

In order to protect this evidence, Argentinean federal judge Ariel Lijo took urgent measures on Monday. Lijo cut his vacation short in order to take over the case and sent agents to AMIA to “seize and safeguard all CD recordings of the wiretaps and all the documents mentioned in the complaint,” says Centro de Información Judicial (CIJ), a government website that publishes news on court cases. Lijo, the same judge who is leading an investigation into a corruption scandal involving Vice President Amado Boudou, will determine whether Nisman had gathered enough evidence to justify questioning President Cristina Fernández as he urged the court to do.

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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