Eight months later, still no justice for the Nisman family

It has been eight months since Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead on the floor of his apartment in Buenos Aires, shot once in the head with a gun that didn’t belong to him. Yet, after all this time, with an investigation that has become an international scandal, there continues to be no official explanation of how he died or who was responsible. The large forensic expert team representing Nisman’s family, which conducted an autopsy and a forensic examination of all the physical evidence, concluded months ago that Nisman was murdered. The official investigation, plagued by publicly documented mismanagement and intense political pressure by the Argentine government, still hasn’t rendered its opinion. And with the passage of time, impunity grows more and more likely.

The Nisman family had raised objections to the handling of the official investigation, and had filed a complaint in Argentine court demanding that prosecutor Viviana Fein be removed from the case and the investigation be taken up directly by the instructing judge, Fabiana Palmaghini. The Criminal and Correctional Federal Appeals court denied the family’s appeal. The judges of the court explained that they did not examine the merits of the proposal to remove Fein, and that only Judge Palmaghini had the discretionary power to decide who should lead the investigation. Prosecutor Fein, who was shown in official Federal Police video the night of Nisman’s death handling evidence with her bare hands and tracking his blood across the crime scene with her shoes, will remain in charge of the investigation.

Three separate laboratory tests conducted last week and then analyzed by the Scientific Laboratory of Tax Investigation upon Prosecutor Fein’s requests, concluded unanimously that the .22 caliber Bersa that was found near Nisman’s body leaves gunpowder residue on the hand that pulls its trigger. Two tests conducted by Argentinian authorities on Nisman’s hands a few days after he was found dead showed no traces of gunpowder residue. The environment within which Nisman was found dead could not be replicated in its entirety but the results from Salta suggest with high certainty that Nisman could not have pulled the trigger on the .22 Bersa that killed him. With these conclusions, the case should be investigated as an assassination, not a suicide.

The lawyers representing Nisman’s daughters expressed to the Argentinian media their plans to subpoena President Kirchner to testify in the probe of Nisman’s death, after she leaves office. On the day that Nisman was found dead the President took to her Facebook page to ask her audience “who was is that ordered prosecutor Nisman on January 12 to return to Argentina, causing him to leave his little daughter alone in Barajas airport?” The lawyers explained they want to ask the President how she possessed such information about Nisman’s whereabouts before his death.

Prosecutor Fein has insinuated that she will finalize her investigation into Nisman’s death only after October. La Nacion suggests that it remains to be seen whether the outcome of the October Presidential elections could influence the prosecutor’s conclusions or whether her conclusions, if they were to arrive prior to October 25, could influence the elections. It would be a travesty of justice if politics where to impact the outcome of the investigation.