Israel expresses ‘deep sorrow’ over Alberto Nisman’s death

Foreign Ministry praises ‘courageous’ prosecutor, who died of a bullet wound a day before he was set to testify against Argentine president

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Alberto Nisman, the slain prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
Alberto Nisman, the slain prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

Israel expressed deep sorrow Monday over the sudden death of Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Jerusalem hoped Argentina would continue his work and try to bring to justice the perpetrators of the bombing, but did not explicitly mention Iran, which is suspected to have been behind the 1994 attack.

Nisman was found dead in his apartment Sunday night with a gunshot wound to the head, hours before he was set to testify before lawmakers on his accusations of a cover-up by his country’s president in the case.

“The State of Israel expresses its deep sorrow over the tragic circumstances of the death of special prosecutor to investigate the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman,” Nahshon stated. “Nisman, a courageous jurist of high stature and a fearless fighter for justice, worked with great determination to expose the identities of the attack’s perpetrators and their dispatchers. The State of Israel hopes the authorities in Argentina will continue Nisman’s activity and make every possible effort to bring to justice those responsible for attacks in Argentina. ”

Argentinian media reported early Monday that Alberto Nisman was found in a pool of blood in the bathroom of his home in the capital’s Puerto Madero district. Police were investigating and had initially ruled the death a likely suicide.

Nisman had received many death threats over the years, people who knew him revealed on Monday. The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz, who had interviewed Nisman several times, wrote Monday, in an article entitled, “Who will obtain justice for Alberto Nisman?”: “Nisman told me that he had been warned off the AMIA case by Iran, and that he had received death threats, including one that he found recorded on his home answering machine which was particularly troubling because his daughter was standing next to him when he played it. In one of several subsequent telephone conversations, he said the Iranians had told him — during hearings at which they sought in vain to have their incriminated leaders cleared by Interpol — that he had slandered their nation, that his capture would be sought, and that he would spend years in Iran’s jails… Nisman did not appear particularly fazed by the threats, saying lightly that he had no plans to visit the Islamic Republic. He also swore that he would not cease his work on the case until the perpetrators and orchestrators had been tried, convicted and jailed.”

The timing of Nisman’s death raised eyebrows, as the prosecutor had been set to speak before a congressional panel about his assertions, made public last week, that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman had covered up Iran’s involvement in the attack.

Nisman had filed a 300-page complaint naming Fernández, Timerman and others of seeking to “erase” Iran’s role in the bombing at the AMIA community center offices in which 85 people were killed. He had said he wanted to question the president and other officials whom he claimed were involved in the cover-up.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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