Latin America

Police raid home of computer expert who loaned gun to dead prosecutor

New claims emerge that Alberto Nisman's computer was accessed after his death

Alejandro Rebossio
Diego Lagomarsino during an interview at his lawyer's office in Buenos Aires.
Diego Lagomarsino during an interview at his lawyer's office in Buenos Aires.Ricardo Ceppi

As part of the ongoing inquiry into the unexplained death of an Argentinean prosecutor, police on Monday made the surprise move of raiding the home of a computer expert who has admitted loaning out the gun that was found near the body of Alberto Nisman.

The search came after Nisman’s ex-wife, Sandra Arroyo, asked a judge investigating the death to confiscate computers, memory sticks and even video game consoles at the home of Diego Lagomarsino. The computer expert worked for the prosecutor on the 1994 terrorist bombing case of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Arroyo, who is a federal judge, said last week that a private inquiry she carried out along with a group of investigators has concluded that Nisman was murdered.

Nisman’s former wife hired a team of experts, which believes the prosecutor was murdered

The 51-year-old prosecutor, who was found dead at his home on January 18, had accused President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and members of her government of acting to cover up his terrorist-bombing inquiry.

In court papers, Nisman claimed that the president was trying to seek a grain-for-oil deal with Iran in exchange for impunity for a group of fugitive Iranian officials wanted for the attack.

No official conclusion has been reached about Nisman’s death, but the lead prosecutor Vivian Fein has said that she hasn’t ruled out either suicide or murder.

Lagomarsino, who described himself in an EL PAÍS interview as Nisman’s close friend, said he loaned him the .22 caliber pistol after the prosecutor asked for the weapon so he could protect himself and his daughters, aged seven and 15.

After he filed the complaint against President Fernández de Kirchner, Nisman feared for his own life and no longer trusted his own bodyguards, Lagomarsino said.

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Arroyo’s team of private investigators contradicted experts from Argentina’s Supreme Court who ruled that Nisman died on January 18, the same day his body was found. She claims her ex-husband was shot the night before, shortly after Lagomarsino went to his home to give him the firearm.

Although not an official suspect in the case, Lagomarsino has been charged with a weapons violation for loaning him the gun.

Lagomarsino’s lawyer, Maximiliano Rusconi, refuted Arroyo’s hypothesis that her former spouse died on the night of January 17, saying that he used his laptop on the morning his body was found to read three newspaper websites and check his emails.

But Arroyo suspects that someone accessed the laptop that morning from a remote location in order to throw off investigators. Her theory has also been supported by the Argentinean government.

Aníbal Fernández, the president’s Cabinet chief, said Monday that anyone “using a Trojan program can log on to a computer from any location.”

Because of this possible new angle, a warrant was issued to search Lagomarsino’s home in the Buenos Aires suburb of Martínez.

Yet the Cabinet chief questioned Arroyo’s murder claims.

The government also suspects someone logged on to Nisman’s computer from a remote location

“There are no contradictions between the experts. There is only one report that prosecutor Fein has ordered, which was undertaken by a team [of Supreme Court experts] with enormous prestige, and another done by professionals who have some recognition,” Fernández said.

The Fein report is leaning toward suicide as the cause of Nisman’s death but hasn’t completely ruled out homicide.

“Arroyo has every right in the world to hire her own experts who are going to work on what she tells them. But they didn’t examine the body – they just analyzed photos and videos,” the Cabinet chief said.

During a news conference Thursday, Arroyo said that her team was prevented from examining the body.

One question that has surfaced is why she argued that forensic testing on Nisman’s computer should be halted because it was an invasion of his privacy. The government, as well as Lagomarsino’s lawyer, have demanded that the laptop be examined.

In another development, a customs agent — who gave a security surveillance recording to a television station of Nisman’s arrival at Ezeiza international airport days before filing the complaint — was released from custody with charges pending.

The prosecutor, who arrived on a flight from Madrid where he was on vacation, can be seen in the video nervously asking his way around and checking his telephone messages. An unidentified man, who appears to be waiting for him as the prosecutor collects his luggage, is also seen in the video.

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