Argentine court rules prosecutor in AMIA bombing case was murdered
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Argentine court rules prosecutor in AMIA bombing case was murdered

Death of Alberto Nisman, who was set to expose evidence that president covered up Iran’s role in 1994 Jewish center bombing, 'could not have been a suicide,' judge finds

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 Argentine special prosecutor who was found dead in 2015 while investigating a 1994 Jewish center bombing was murdered, a federal judge in the country ruled Tuesday.

Alberto Nisman’s death “could not have been a suicide,” judge Julian Ercolini wrote in his 656-page ruling, according to Reuters.

He said there was enough evidence to support foul play in the death of Nisman, who was discovered in his Buenos Aires apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, delivered at close range from a handgun found at his side.

Ercolini’s ruling also pointed to one suspect in the death: Diego Lagomarsino, an IT employee in Nisman’s office, who he said was a possible accessory to murder.

Nisman’s body was found on January 18, 2015, hours before he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that then-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the attack on the Buenos Aires AMIA center that left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.

Diego Lagomarsino, January 28, 2015 (YouTube screenshot)

His death was initially ruled a likely suicide.

In November special prosecutor Eduargo Taiano, probing Nisman’s death, had requested that it be investigated as a murder, after analyzing a report produced in September by forensic investigators from the country’s border patrol guard, or Gendarmerie.

Taiano asked to interrogate Lagomarsino as a participant in an assassination plan. According to the prosecutor, Lagomarsino provided the gun that was used to prepare a fake suicide scenario.

In January 2015, Lagomarsino said he went to Nisman’s apartment to give him a “very old” .22 caliber pistol to protect himself after Nisman expressed fears that he was being targeted by supporters of Kirchner. Hours later, Nisman was found dead by a bullet from that gun fired at point-blank range above his right ear. Lagomarsino has so far been charged only with lending the pistol to Nisman.

The prosecutor also requested an investigation of the police guards that handled security for Nisman. Four members of the team of 10 guards were charged with non-fulfillment of duties.

Former Argentine president (2007-2015) Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech during a rally in Buenos Aires on June 20, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH)

Earlier this month an Argentine judge on called for the arrest of Kirchner for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing. Judge Claudio Bonadio accused Kirchner of the crime of treason as he asked lawmakers to remove the immunity from prosecution she has as a senator.

Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano said the judge also ordered the arrest of former Kirchner aide Carlos Zanni and activist Luis D’Elia on the same charges. Former foreign minister Hector Timerman was ordered held under house arrest due to health issues.

The former president is accused of signing a deal with Tehran to allow Iranian officials suspected of ordering the attack on the Jewish center to be interviewed by Argentine magistrates in Tehran rather than in Buenos Aires.

She has previously called the case an “absurdity.”

Kirchner is facing trial in several other cases involving corruption and money laundering stemming from her years as president.

JTA and agencies contributed to this report.

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