A panel of three judges in the Buenos Aires City Criminal Appeals court ruled unanimously Tuesday to move the probe into the death of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman to federal court, where political murder cases are heard.
Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in his Buenos Aires apartment on January 18, 2015, just hours before he was scheduled to present evidence implicating President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a coverup to protect Iran from prosecution for involvement in the July 18, 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center. The attack killed 85 people and left hundreds more wounded.
After Nisman’s death the case against Fernandez was dismissed – but the evidence did not. Nisman had sent an email to three friends with a backup of his research and report.
Former Argentine counterintelligence chief Jaime Stiuso, a friend of Nisman’s who may have been one of the recipients of those emails, was fired by then-president Fernandez. Stiuso testified in court earlier this month and it is believed that his testimony provided the evidence needed to send the case to federal court.
In the court’s decision, two of the three judges wrote: “It is plausible to give credit to the hypothesis suggested by the accusers, both public and private, to assume that the death of Alberto Natalio Nisman could also be a result of the activity of a third party.”
In the weeks before his death, Nisman had received numerous threats, including one emailed to him that was read to the court by Manuel Romero Victorica, an attorney for Nisman’s ex-wife, the former federal judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado.
“We will make true our promise to kill you and your family, but before that, we will make you look like sh*t in public and in the media… We’ve already managed to separate you from the AMIA case and we’ve gotten Argentina a deal with Iran without you.”
Attorney Pablo Lanusse, representing Nisman’s mother Sara Garfunkel, likewise asked the court to send the case to federal court.
“Nisman was assassinated in order to impede the progress of his work on behalf of the state,” said Lanusse. “This case is screaming for a transfer to the federal courts, because it must be recognized that Nisman was murdered.”