Knesset remembers Argentine prosecutor Nisman amid hopes for breakthrough
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Knesset remembers Argentine prosecutor Nisman amid hopes for breakthrough

Diaspora Affairs panel marks 2-year anniversary of Alberto Nisman’s death as he probed AMIA terror cover-up; biographer says ‘Alberto’s murder has absolutely been proven,’ blames accomplices of the Iranians

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Argentina's public prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, gives a news conference in Buenos Aires, May 20, 2009. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Argentina's public prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, gives a news conference in Buenos Aires, May 20, 2009. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee on Wednesday marked the two-year anniversary of the mysterious death of Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

The gathering came amid hopes a recent court decision to reopen Nisman’s probe of the deadly 1994 AMIA bombing would complete his life’s work, and a separate investigation into his death would shed light on his suspected murder.

Two years ago, Nisman accused former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and ex-foreign minister Hector Timerman of reaching a secret deal with the Iranian government to cover up the role of several Iranian officials in the bombing at the Jewish center, which killed 85 people. The federal prosecutor was found dead on his bathroom floor, a bullet in his head, in January 2015 — hours before he was set to present his case to the Argentine Congress.

Since his death, which sparked protests across Argentina, several lower courts in Argentina rejected calls to reopen Nisman’s investigation into the Argentine leadership. But on December 30, an Argentine appeals court ordered a new investigation into Kirchner, reviving hopes that both the masterminds behind the bombing at the Jewish community center and those believed responsible for Nisman’s death would be brought to justice.

Gustavo Perednik (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gustavo Perednik (Courtesy)

“The Argentine government, I believe, did not murder Alberto Nisman, may his memory be a blessing,” said Nisman’s biographer Gustavo Perednik at the Knesset session.

“It simply allowed the murder [to be carried out] in that it gave, in what is called in Argentine slang a ‘free zone,’ meaning… free of the police, free of the law, so that the Iranians could carry out the murder, as they did in the end.”

A vigil in Buenos Aires on the first anniversary of Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death, January 18, 2016. (Omer Musa Targal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A vigil in Buenos Aires on the first anniversary of Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death, January 18, 2016. (Omer Musa Targal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Iranians may have worked through accomplices, “not necessarily directly,” he added. “The Argentine government decided not to protect him.”

“Alberto’s murder has absolutely been proven, there is just no Argentine judge who will say it and declare it — but this will happen soon,” he added.

Perednik said the recent court decision — which also saw the dismissal of the lower judge and prosecutor who had ruled against reopening Nisman’s files– “raises great hopes.”

“The investigations are taking place, and we will slowly get to the truth, as Nisman hoped,” he said.

Carlos Faustino Garcia, Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, told the Knesset panel the government treats with “special importance” the probes into the AMIA bombing and Nisman’s cause of death.

The government under President Mauricio Macri supports the investigations “in order to determine and clarify definitively the cause of death of the prosecutor,” said Garcia.

A man walks over the rubble after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 1994. (AFP/Ali Burafi)
A man walks over the rubble after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 1994. (AFP/Ali Burafi)

Israeli diplomat Modi Efraim, who served in the Argentine embassy from 2005 to 2008, told lawmakers he found Nisman to be a “fighter for justice, an honest man, fair, and professional.”

“In the past year, we have seen a change in the investigations,” he noted.

Also speaking at the session was Israeli-Argentine national Roxanna Levinson, whose aunt was killed in the terror attack on the Israeli embassy in 1992 and whose uncle was murdered in the AMIA attack two years later.

“The morning I heard that Nisman was murdered, I cried exactly as I cried after the attacks,” she said. “When my husband asked me what happened, I replied: ‘The AMIA investigation has been murdered.'”

AFP contributed to this report.

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