Latin America

New forensic tests point to suicide in death of Argentinean prosecutor

Ex-top spy and the computer technician who loaned gun to Nisman will both testify

A woman passes the office of prosecutor Viviana Fein.
A woman passes the office of prosecutor Viviana Fein.Rodrigo Abd / AP

The gunshot wound that killed Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman last month may have been self-inflicted, according to a new forensic study released Monday in Buenos Aires.

The bullet penetrated his skull two centimeters above his right ear and entered upwards at a 30-degree angle – findings that are “compatible” with a “self-inflicted wound,” investigators said.

The prosecutor investigating Nisman’s death said she isn’t weighing in on any theory

Nisman, 51, was found dead in his apartment on January 18 the day before he was scheduled to testify in Congress about the cover-up charges he had filed the week before against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others for allegedly trying to derail his investigation into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. The terrorist attack, allegedly carried out by a group of Iranians, left 85 people dead and dozens injured.

Nisman had alleged in court papers that the Fernández de Kirchner government was trying to broker a grain-for-oil deal with Tehran in exchange for impunity for several Iranian officials charged with the attack.

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The allegations against the president and her team and Nisman’s subsequent death have fueled speculation across the country.

Despite the latest forensic test findings, the prosecutor who is investigating Nisman’s death said she still isn’t weighing in on any theory.

“My greatest wish is to find out the truth, not only for myself but to assure citizens so that they will know what was behind this – whether if this was motivated; induced; whether it was a decision he made himself; or if there was a third person who was responsible for the gun going off,” Viviana Fein said in a radio interview.

Over the past few weeks, certain government and judicial officials have questioned whether Fein is capable of continuing to carry out her investigation or if she is under pressure by the Fernández de Kirchner government.

The prosecutor has denied she has received pressure from any sector.

Later this week, Fein will take a sworn statement from two people said to be key witnesses in the inquiry into Nisman’s death. One is Antonio Stiuso, a controversial former intelligence chief who had spoken to Nisman several days before his death.

Some officials have questioned whether Fein is under pressure by the Fernández de Kirchner government

After serving with the Argentinean intelligence services for 42 years, Stiuso was fired by Fernández de Kirchner in December as part of the shakeup inside the SIDE spy agency.

Stiuso, whose nickname was “Jaime,” had been one of the most powerful and feared secret agents in the country, serving during the military dictatorship and under different presidents after democracy was restored in 1983. He was one of Nisman’s closest sources in the 1994 AMIA center bombing investigation.

Fernández de Kirchner has accused Stiuso of being the architect of the complaint Nisman filed against her. Some in the president’s center-left Peronist faction and in other sectors have also accused Stiuso of conducting illegal phone taps.

One of Nisman’s closest friends, Diego Lagomarsino, is also scheduled to testify before Fein this week. The computer technician, who on Monday was fired from his job in the unit where he worked alongside the late prosecutor, is facing charges for giving Nisman the .22 caliber firearm that allegedly caused his death.

The Public Prosecutions Ministry said in a statement that Lagomarsino was removed from his post “because it appears that he did not do any work.”