By Hernán Cappiello, 20 January 2015
Anxious, in a hurry, concerned but sure of his findings, expansive in his gestures, fast-talking and hyperactive. This is how Alberto Nisman was in his last hours in Puerto Madero and in his office, preparing the presentation before Congress that would never come to pass.
Separated for more than three years from San Isidro federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, Nisman was in Amsterdam with one of his daughters last week to celebrate her 15th birthday, when he argued with his ex-wife over the phone. On Friday, January 9th, he had already decided to return earlier than expected from Spain, where Nisman had planned to spend the weekend skiing with his daughter. They were going to Andorra. But he changed his plans and Arroyo Salgado went to meet the girl in Spain and continued the trip together with her.
Nisman wanted to know what was going on in Buenos Aires, what was being said and if, beyond the battle between the judiciary and the Government over the appointment of 16 surrogate prosecutors, something had come out about what he had been preparing.
Once he was here, on Monday he rushed through the effort to have the complaint he had been working on for two years to be ready. He pushed his staff, had discussions with some of them, but on Wednesday he emerged to present it.
Nisman was nervous that morning. He thought something would happen to him. “They’re preparing something,” he told a friend who called him mid-morning. He didn’t say anything more, but led the friend to understand that it was something work-related, a report, a summary or something like that. Sources from the Attorney General’s office denied both last week and yesterday that they’d been thinking of removing him from the unit in charge of the AMIA case. Neither before nor after his complaint. They said that, on the contrary, they had offered to beef up his security team.
Nisman said last week that he believed he was about to be removed from office because he thought that while Gils Carbó had no sympathy for him, removing him “would have a cost,” he wrote in a chat with a friend of his on January 7.
Days later, he sent his friends a long message over WhatsApp, which said: “This is a mass-message for a small group of dear friends and relatives who don’t follow my day-to-day activity. It’s just for your information, please don’t reply. I have to unexpectedly end my trip to Europe with my daughter for her 15th birthday and return. You can imagine what that means. But sometimes in life moments are not chosen. Things just happen. And this is one of those things. What I’m going to do now was going to happen anyway. It was already decided. I’ve long prepared for this, but didn’t imagine it would be so soon. It would take too long to explain it now.”
“As you already know,” he added in the message, “things happen, period. That’s life. Everything else is allegorical. Some will already know what I’m talking about, others will imagine something and others will have no idea … It’s coming in a short time. I have a lot on the line with this. That’s all I’ll say. But I always made decisions. And today will be no exception. And I am convinced. I know it won’t be easy, quite the contrary. But sooner or later the truth wins out. And I have confidence. I will do everything in my power, and more even, no matter who I have to confront. Thanks to all. There will be justice. Oh, and to clarify, just in case, don’t freak out or anything like that. Still, I’m better than ever. Hahaha 🙂 ”
That Wednesday, January 14th, when he announced his complaint, he was at his office, where LA NACION interviewed him that afternoon. He was hyperkinetic, verbose, with long paragraphs full of subordinate phrases. He was concerned because it was clear that it was not a political attack but based on evidence. He also wanted to point out that he was thinking about a new strategy to extradite the Iranian fugitives, like giving a speech to an international body which Iran recognizes and was a member of.
He said that day he didn’t fear reprisals, but he referred to the administrative decisions of his superior, Gils Carbó. He didn’t imagine anything else. “Support me, don’t leave me on my own in this. I’m putting it all on the line,” he said before leaving, in a daze.
He later spoke with local journalists and foreign correspondents. In the afternoon he went to his apartment in Puerto Madero. The night before, he had not slept and just wanted to rest and prepare for the interview that he planned to give at 10:00pm on the network, TN. The Nisman on that show was explosive, giddy and anxious as usual. He showered, and agreed to sit for some pictures at LA NACION in a suit and tie in the front walk of the building Le Parc in Puerto Madero where 10 bodyguards from the Federal Police watched over him in 24-hour shifts. The rest of the week he gave interviews and was organizing his visit for yesterday to Congress. He spoke several times with Deputy Patricia Bullrich. He wanted to ensure that the session where he would speak about the evidence from his complaint would be closed. He feared that the political brawl between the opposition and the ruling party would overshadow the weightiness of what he would say.
The safety routines were always the same, he would speak from a secure cellular phone, or from the middle of the prosecution offices from where they transferred the call to wherever in the world Nisman happened to be.
On Friday at noon, he had lunch in Puerto Madero, he chose the Itamae sushi restaurant, where he was a customer and knew it was not crowded. He chose a table hidden behind a lattice. His phone did not stop ringing. He was not anxious, but excited and confident of his investigation. Rapid and stumbling over his words. He went off in a Ford Mondeo with dark tinted windows to his prosecution office, where he did some work.
On Saturday, he worked over the phone with his staff in preparing the presentation to Congress. On Sunday afternoon his cell phone rang without anyone answering, still received messages from WhatsApp, but no one answered.