Argentine ex-spy chief: AMIA investigator Nisman was murdered
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Argentine ex-spy chief: AMIA investigator Nisman was murdered

Antonio Stiuso says he is sure the ex-president ‘impeded’ probe on Iran’s role in deadly 1994 bombing; case to go to federal court

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Alberto Nisman gives a news conference in Buenos Aires on May 20, 2009. (AFP Photo/Juan Mabromata)
Alberto Nisman gives a news conference in Buenos Aires on May 20, 2009. (AFP Photo/Juan Mabromata)

BUENOS AIRES — Former Argentinian spy chief Antonio Stiuso on Monday testified that AMIA bombing prosecutor Alberto Nisman “was killed” and that he is certain former president Cristina Kirchner “impeded” the investigation into the deadly 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center.

Stiuso aided Nisman in the AMIA bombing investigation, and in closed-door testimony given to a judge he said Nisman had been murdered, the local Infobae news site quoted judicial sources as saying.

Stiuso delivered the 16-hour testimony to Judge Fabiana Palmaghini, who subsequently declared herself unfit to continue to head the investigation.

With her recusal, the case will go to federal court.

Nisman was found shot dead in his apartment on January 18, 2015. Days earlier, he had accused then-president Kirchner of helping Iranian officials cover up Iran’s role in the country’s worst terrorist attack, in which 85 people were killed. The case against Kirchner was later thrown out.

Antonio Stiuso on February 29, 2016 testified that AMIA bombing prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered. (screen capture: YouTube)
Antonio Stiuso on February 29, 2016 testified that AMIA bombing prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered. (screen capture: YouTube)

Nisman tried to contact Stiuso four times by telephone the day before he was found dead. Stiuso said in a statement to a prosecutor last year that he never heard the calls.

Stiuso fled Argentina shortly after that, complaining of threats on his life. He had failed to comply with a summons ordering him to testify until now.

At the time, Kirchner suggested Nisman was killed by rogue intelligence agents, though she gave no evidence. She also said that Stiuso fed false information to Nisman and even had a hand in writing the late prosecutor’s report detailing the accusations against her.

Stiuso oversaw a widespread wire-tapping operation before he was removed as head of Argentina’s spy agency in December 2014.

His closed-door testimony came days after top Argentine prosecutor Ricardo Sáenz told the country’s criminal court of appeals that he believed Nisman was killed and didn’t take his own life. It marked the first time that a judicial official called Nisman’s mysterious death a homicide.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires on January 30, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/ALEJANDRO PAGNI)
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires on January 30, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/ALEJANDRO PAGNI)

Before his death, Nisman had accused the government of establishing a “parallel communication channel” with Iran in order to “transmit and implement the orders established by the president (Kirchner) and, in that way, reach the illicit objectives,” including establishing trade relations.

Nisman’s body was discovered just hours before he was to present the evidence to Argentine lawmakers at the National Parliament.

A .22 pistol was found by his side, and associates of the former president maintained his death was a suicide, but the mysterious circumstances of his death prompted a public outcry.

Elie Leshem and AP contributed to this report.

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