By Emiliano Limia
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AA) - By the time of his death, Argentina’s prosecutor Alberto Nisman was investigating the attack against the Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) that occurred on July 18, 1994 in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people died.
This has been considered as the biggest terrorist attack in the history of Latin America.
Four days before Nisman was found dead, he presented a complaint for concealing of the alleged terrorists through a negotiation with the Iranian state. Then President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner would have been a part of such negotiation.
According to Nisman, a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 between Argentina and Iran had conspired to favor the impunity in the investigation of the AMIA case.
During an interview for a local media after filing the complaint, Nisman qualified then Secretary and Director of Intelligence Oscar Parrilli as an Iranian agent and assured that there was an “alliance with the terrorists” to “disassociate Iran from the AMIA investigation and get closer geopolitically”.
By then, the Foreign minister was Hector Timerman, who said the law in Argentina and Iran were contradictory, and thereby, “there had to be a negotiation somehow”, as Argentina does not accept trials in absence, and Iran does not allow the extradition of people to be processed. The Memorandum of Understanding made it possible to interrogate the suspects in Iran.
Nisman died on Jan. 18, on a Sunday in 2015. He had planned to go to the Congress the following Monday to expose his complaint before the Chamber of Deputies against Cristina Fernandez, Timerman and other former officials.
The weapon that was found next to the prosecutor’s body in his apartment belonged to Diego Lagomarsino, a computer technician who had been hired by Nisman. Lagomarsino stated that it was the prosecutor himself who asked him for the gun for personal security reasons; in fact, the cameras from the building registered the moment in which the technician had entered to deliver the weapon.
-Homicide or suicide?
After an examination (that turned out to be very disputed) from the National Gendarmerie in September 2017, the Argentinian justice confirmed for the first time that Nisman’s death had been a homicide and it was then ratified in June 2018.
The assertion is based on the type of shot (in the temple, from the back to the front), the place where the gun was placed, the ketamine that was found in his body (it is believed that it was used to dope him), and the lack of gunpowder in his hands, among other facts.
On the other hand, the security camera system of the building in which Nisman lived had many failures and blind spots, so an alleged murderer may not have been seen.
Lagomarsino is waiting for a trial, accused of being a necessary participant in the former prosecutor’s death for delivering the gun, as the four policemen who were supposed to be guarding Nisman are accused for noncompliance of duties of a public official and aggravated cover-up.
Further from the investigations, those who defend the homicide hypothesis argue that it is at least suspicious the fact that someone who follows up a case for 10 years decides to kill himself one day prior to declare before the Congress of the nation.
Besides, the prosecutor had already received death threats for him and his family. His inner circle says that the last years before his death he was very worried for his security, and they describe Nisman as a man with courage, who risked his life for the AMIA case and dared to denounce Cristina Fernandez while being president and the whole Iranian regime.
Actually, before filing his complaint, the prosecutor sent a message to his close relatives in which he warned: “I am risking a lot in this. Everything, I would say”, and added that he had much confidence in himself and that he did not care who was in charge, reffering to the then president.
But, just as on one side Nisman is presented as a hero, on the other side he is presented as a villain.
The ones who support the hypothesis of a suicide, justify that Nisman was under a big pressure one day before declaring to the Congress. They assure that his complaint would not succeed as he did not have enough evidence.
He had rushed his return from Spain because he suspected he was going to be fired. He returned unexpectedly on Jan. 12, 2015 from a trip to Spain that he was doing with one of his daughters, who turned 15.
Additionally, the prosecutor’s body did not have defensive nor fight injuries. There are no traces or samples that someone else could have been present at Nisman’s apartment.
Al last, an informatic investigation concluded that the last pages consulted in his computer were related to Psychedelia and life after death.
-Nisman: the prosecutor, the president and the spy
Recently it was released on the Netflix platform "Nisman: the Prosecutor, the President and the Spy", a six-episode documentary miniseries made by Justin Webster, based on the case of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.
The documentary does not focus only on the death of Nisman, but it goes through several events, from the attack on the AMIA and its investigation to the death of Nisman and the different hypotheses.
The most interesting thing is that the story is told by the protagonists. One of them (and perhaps the most shocking) is Antonio Stiuso, the intelligence agent who worked with Nisman in the investigation of the AMIA case, who had never before provided an in-person interview.
Antonio Horacio Stiuso was the Director of Operations and Counterintelligence of the Secretariat of Intelligence until December 2014, when he was removed from his post after more than 30 years of service.
According to the "spy" in the series, Cristina Fernandez decided to take him and all his people from the Intelligence Agency to stop investigating Iran in the AMIA case. Stiuso reports that there was an intelligence service parallel to the officer.
The documentary connects this fact with the complaint presented by Nisman on Jan. 14, 2015 against Cristina Fernandez and several former officials for covering up the Iranians; four days later, Nisman dies.
The miniseries collect video files that are interspersed with testimonials. Thus, Cristina Fernandez can be seen when she declared at the time that both the complaint against her and the death of prosecutor Nisman were "directly linked to the AMIA attack."
You can also see the then Secretary of Intelligence Oscar Parrilli, who describes Stiuso as an "extortionist of political leaders, a manipulator who nobody was encouraged because they were afraid", and that Nisman "was used alive and They needed dead. ”
Prosecutor Viviana Fein was in charge of investigating Nisman's death during the first year, in which she ordered a cross-linking of calls and discovered that there were communications between different phones on behalf of Stiuso on the same day as Nisman's death.
“[Calls] It was from people retired from intelligence services, people in activity, from the Army, connected to each other throughout the day until the time when Nisman's death is known. There, all modifications are interrupted. Before that, those people had never spoken to each other,” says Fein in the documentary.
Even today the meaning of the calls that were made in the hours before the news of the prosecutor's death is unknown.
Other relevant testimonies are those of Ross Newland, of the CIA, and James Bernazzani, of the FBI, who were very critical of the investigation of the AMIA attack and admit that there is no concrete evidence against Iran.
It also appears the current president, Alberto Fernandez, who had been chief of staff during the first years of the Kirchner family government (2003-2008), and who a few years ago seemed suspicious that he had committed suicide. Today, on the other hand, he argues that "the evidence does not give rise to thinking that Nisman was killed."
On April 2015 Alberto Fernandez had already been very blunt before an Israeli media: “No one in Argentina thinks that Nisman has committed suicide, and the first one who does not believe he has committed suicide is President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (...)
"First she said it was suicide, but the next day she said she had no doubt that Nisman was killed. She said he was killed by a war between the intelligence services, and the war between intelligence services is a responsibility of the State.”
In addition, with respect to the memorandum of understanding with Iran, Alberto Fernandez had described Cristina Fernandez as "cynically delusional", and having taken "the pathetic care of having made that memorandum law because she knows that this is his impunity."
The documentary suggests that Nisman's investigation was guided by the evidence provided by Stiuso, without sufficient grounds to know if the information provided by the intelligence services was reliable.
The truth is that the AMIA case continues unpunished, and every time a complaint touches the power there are difficulties for its clarification. For now, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is awaiting trial, accused of covering up the Iranians accused of the attack.
This Saturday will be held in Buenos Aires a demonstration for the fifth anniversary of his death, under the slogan "It was not suicide, it was murder."
*Daniela Mendoza and Juan Velez contributed to the report