Don’t Bury Alberto Nisman Again
Those with the legal duty to seek the truth have done just the opposite. They are seeking to bury Alberto Nisman and his investigation once again.
January 18, 2022 | The National Interest | Toby Dershowitz
Alberto Nisman was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment on Sunday, January 18, 2015. The cover-up of his murder started immediately, with evidence seeping out like water from a leaky faucet that won’t stop dripping even after multiple attempts to plug it.
Nisman had spent a decade as the head prosecutor investigating the deadliest bombing in Argentina’s history. Eighty-five people were killed and hundreds more wounded on the morning of July 18, 1994, when, according to Nisman’s findings from his exhaustive investigation, Iranian officials at the highest levels of government had planned the bombing which its proxy Hezbollah carried out. A van carrying 606 pounds of ammonium nitrate plowed into the five-story AMIA Jewish community center building. The souls of the victims’ families are still scarred.
Nisman had filed a complaint with Federal Judge Ariel Lijo’s court on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. He alleged that then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had made an agreement with Iran to absolve the Islamic Republic of responsibility in the AMIA terrorist attack and to lift the INTERPOL red notices on the Iranian officials Nisman had implicated. In exchange, Iran would sell oil to Argentina and Tehran would receive grain, and possibly weapons, according to the complaint filed with Lijo. A Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, was signed between the two countries, a document that is now public.
Kirchner’s allies scrambled to learn what else Nisman had on her.
Days after his death, Kirchner disbanded the SIDE, the top intelligence agency, knowing some agents had cooperated with Nisman. She created a new spy agency, Agencia Federal de Inteligencia, led by her cronies.
After long delays, Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano pursued the complaint Nisman had filed with Lijo. On March 5, 2018, Kirchner and a dozen of her associates were indicted in federal court for obstructing the investigation into Iran’s role in the bombing.
Within hours after he was found dead, Kirchner immediately—and falsely—announced Nisman had committed suicide. Soon after, she posited other false conspiracy theories. None have stuck. The evidence was not there.
Diego Lagomarsino, Nisman’s technology consultant indicted as an accessory to the murder, claimed the prosecutor had asked him to bring him a gun. It was Lagomarsino’s .22-caliber Bersa gun that killed Nisman. Police investigations found no residue from Lagomarsiono’s gun on Nisman’s hands.
The investigation into his death was so bungled that one can only surmise the sloppiness was intentional. Then-Vice Minister of Security Sergio Berni tracked through the apartment with his muddy shoes. Viviana Fein, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, stepped in pools of Nisman’s blood. Evidence that ought to have been preserved was not taken into custody until months or even years—after Nisman’s death.
Nisman had bodyguards protecting him in his Puerto Madero residence. On that Sunday, for twelve hours, he was suspiciously left unprotected. Many of the cameras in his usually secure building were inoperable that day.
Nisman’s complaint was one of a dozen judicial cases against Kirchner.
Kirchner sought to defend herself against Nisman’s allegations. She insisted on taking actions that had no basis in Argentina’s justice system, demanding to address the court and to have her court statement publicly broadcast. Neither of these demands was permissible under Argentine law because the trial had not yet begun. And yet the panel of judges acquiesced.
In an hour-long speech, Kirchner argued that she had committed no crime and that therefore the trial should not proceed, and the case should be dismissed. In his earlier reports, Nisman had agreed that Kirchner’s conduct of foreign relations was part of her executive duties, but maintained that under the constitution, her executive authorities could not intrude into the judiciary’s authority. That is, in carrying out her foreign relations work she was not allowed to absolve Iranian citizens that Argentina’s judiciary had implicated in the killing of eighty-five Argentine citizens. That, he said, was the crime she had committed.