A federal prosecutor in Argentina claimed yesterday that his former colleague, Alberto Nisman, was murdered last year after accusing former President Cristina Kirchner of trying to sabotage his investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds more. A day before Nisman was to testify about Kirchner’s alleged cover-up of Iranian responsibility in the bombing, he was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment.
The prosecutor, Ricardo Sáenz, explained in an 11-page legal brief that “Tests done on Nisman’s hands and on the gun used show that we are looking at a homicide.” Other evidence Sáenz cited includes: the assertion by a doctor present at the crime scene that Nisman’s body had been moved; Nisman’s apartment was cleaned of fingerprints that would have been left by those who were there in the days and hours before his death; Nisman’s laptop had been manipulated after his death and his cellphone wiped of key information, including registries of calls, text messages, and chats.
Presumably, the investigation into Nisman’s death will now be re-opened. As I noted when Nisman was found dead last year, there are plenty of parties who had an interest in silencing him. Principally, there was Kirchner and other high-ranking officials who were helping to whitewash Iranian culpability for the bombing in exchange for improved bilateral relations. Such relations would, among other things, give Argentine agricultural products privileged access to Iranian markets, while Iran would send cheap oil to Argentina.
The fact that Nisman was murdered virtually clinches his case regarding the 1994 bombing. If Iran wasn’t responsible then there was nothing for Kirchner to conceal. But he was, which may turn out to be an even bigger scandal than the fact that the attack on the Jewish Community Center was sponsored by a nation-state, and covered up by the nation-state Iran targeted. Now the task is to find out who is responsible for killing Nisman. Buenos Aires will have to sort out whether its own intelligence service murdered a man for revealing the authorship of a huge state-sponsored terrorist crime on its own soil that targeted Argentine citizens; or whether the murder was committed by the same foreign power that sponsored the original crime: Iran.
Perhaps the likeliest scenario would point to Iranian and Argentine coordination. In any case, you can bet Cristina Kirchner is somewhere in the middle of it all. Now it’s up to her successor, Mauricio Macri to win the justice that he promised Nisman’s daughters when he was elected in November. Justice for Nisman, for the victims of the 1994 attack as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, and justice for an Argentina that deserves better than a corrupt government which took Iran’s bloody hand in partnership.
Lee Smith is the author of The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President (2020).