The most famous spy chief in Argentina told a local judge this week that he believes prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered by someone linked to the government of former President Cristina Fernandez.
Santiago Blanco, attorney for Jaime Stiuso, told the Vorterix radio station on Wednesday that his client does not have “direct proof” that Nisman was murdered. “He is interpreting the precedents and motives that might have led to Nisman’s killing,” Blanco told the station.
Nisman was found dead of a gunshot to the head at his apartment on Jan. 18, 2015, just before he was to publish the findings of an investigation of the deadly July 18, 1994 bombing at the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
On October 25, 2006, Nisman and a colleague had formally accused the government of Iran of having directed the bombing, and the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy Hezbollah terror group with carrying it out.
But according to a report by the New York Times, Nisman was holding a warrant for the arrest of Fernandez. Had he lived he would have presented his findings the next day to the court, including a claim that Fernandez had conspired to derail his investigation and had conspired with the Iranians to protect them from implication in the bombing. After his death the case against Fernandez was dismissed.
But his evidence did not die with him, as many probably hoped.
Just days before Nisman was found dead, he took measures to make sure his research into the bombing and high-level conspiracy didn’t disappear with him, according to a Makor Rishon report.
Nisman sent an email to three friends with a backup of his research and report. One of them was Israeli-Argentine writer and educator, Gustavo Daniel Perednik.
A month before, Perednik met with Nisman in a cafe, where Nisman told him about what he was working on. Nisman told Perednik, “In case someone murders me, all the data is saved.”
The emails were sent from Nisman’s private, secure account in the prosecutor’s office. It was the last email from Nisman Perednik received.
Another recipient is believed to be Jaime Stiuso, the country’s former chief of counterintelligence. Stiuso was fired last year by then-President Cristina Fernandez.
Attorney Federico Casal, representing Nisman’s family, was present in the courtroom for Stiuso’s testimony. He told local media the former intelligence director directly blamed the former president for the prosecutor’s death. Stiuso also reportedly implicated Fernandez administration officials in Nisman’s death, including former Cabinet chief Anibal and former legal secretary Carlos Zannini.
It was Ricardo Sáenz, the prosecutor at the Buenos Aires Criminal Appeals Court who insisted that the probe into Nisman’s death be handled by federal judicial authorities.
Sáenz also confirmed Nisman’s death was a homicide, the Buenos Aires Herald reported last week.
In a ruling presented to the Appeals Court, Sáenz supported the hypothesis of the plaintiffs in the case, Nisman’s daughters, his ex-wife Sandra Arroyo Salgado, and his mother and sister, arguing the case could no longer be handled by Judge Fabiana Palmaghini, who took over the probe from prosecutor Viviana Fein last December. He insisted the investigation required a federal magistrate.
“The procedural action in this case according to the evidence produced until now is the hypothesis that Alberto Nisman was the victim of a homicide,” the prosecutor said. Sáenz raised the issue of Diego Lagomarsino, the IT engineer who worked with Nisman at the AMIA special unit, and was the source of the .22 caliber Bersa gun that ended Nisman’s life.
The 1994 attack killed 85 people and left hundreds wounded. It was the deadliest bombing in the history of the country. Argentina is home to 200,000 Jews – the largest such community in Latin America and the sixth largest Jewish community outside the State of Israel.