BUENUS AIRES — The Argentine prosecutor whose sudden death has set off a crisis for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner no longer trusted even his bodyguards at the end of his life, an assistant said Wednesday.
A tense Diego Lagomarsino, his voice breaking at times, recounted at a news conference here how he came to give Alberto Nisman the .22-caliber revolver used to put a bullet through his head.
The 51-year-old special prosecutor was found dead at his home January 18, a day before he was to go before a congressional committee to accuse Kirchner of shielding Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
Lagomarsino, a computer expert who is the last person known to have seen Nisman alive, said the prosecutor asked him for the gun, saying: “I no longer trust even the guards.”
Nisman told Lagomarsino he feared for the safety of his two daughters — who are 7 and 15 years old, and were on vacation in Spain at the time.
“Do you know what it is like that your daughters don’t want to be with you because they are afraid?” Lagomarsino quoted Nisman as saying.
“I answered: Look it’s an old weapon, its a 22,” Lagomarsino said.
He said Nisman wanted to “carry it in the glove compartment in case some crazy person came by. It was a weapon that was truly faulty. And he said to me, ‘The only favor I ask of you and you won’t do it for me?”
After Nisman’s death, Lagomarsino was charged with giving a firearm to someone other than its registered owner, the only person to be charged so far in the case.
He appeared at a news conference with his lawyer, Maximiliano Rusconi, who said earlier he would ask that Kirchner be called to testify in his client’s case.
Kirchner has accused former intelligence agents of manipulating Nisman to bring charges against her and then killing him to smear her.
On Monday, she announced plans to disband Argentina’s Intelligence Secretariat and replace it with a new federal intelligence agency.
Investigators initially said they believed Nisman committed suicide, but classified his death as “suspicious” and said they have not ruled out murder or an “induced suicide.”
Nisman’s security chief, meanwhile, has been suspended and is under investigation along with two other members of his guard detail, a judicial source said.
Ruben Benitez, a Nisman confidant and the third officer to be suspended in the case, had coordinated a security team of 10 officers who protected the prosecutor.
According to a leaked statement made to the investigation’s head prosecutor, Benitez said he advised Nisman against buying a gun just days before his death.
But the officers have come under scrutiny for contradictory statements to the prosecutor in charge of the case, Viviana Fein.
And police authorities say the security team broke with protocol by remaining out of contact with Nisman for several hours on the day of his death, and failing to report to their superiors.
Nisman was to be mourned Wednesday at a wake and buried Thursday at a Jewish cemetery in La Tablada, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.