Mystery Surrounding Argentine Prosecutor’s Suicide Deepens

Investigators: No trace of gunpowder, no suicide note

BY:

JERUSALEM—The mystery surrounding the alleged suicide of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in Buenos Aires on Sunday, the eve of his scheduled airing of charges against the country’s president, deepened Wednesday when investigators revealed there were no traces of gunpowder on Nisman’s hand and no suicide note.

Nisman, who had been investigating the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, was found dead Sunday in his 13th-floor apartment with a single gunshot wound to his head. Alongside his body was a .22 caliber pistol. The door to the apartment was locked from the inside. Authorities said his death was an apparent suicide, a finding that was met with widespread skepticism.

Nisman had told acquaintances in recent weeks that his life was in danger, and a police detail was posted outside the luxury high-rise building in which he lived.

"I might get out of this dead," he said as recently as Saturday.

Eighty-five people were killed in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center. The initial investigation pointed to strong Iranian logistical involvement with the actual attack carried out by Hezbollah operatives and directed by the organization’s military leader, Imad Mughniyeh. However, the investigation bogged down and Nisman was appointed by then President Néstor Kirchner, as special prosecutor.

Nisman filed a 300-page complaint last week, alleging that Kirchner’s widow and successor as president, Cristina, sought to whitewash the Iranian involvement in exchange for stronger trade relations with Iran, including cheap oil. Nisman also implicated Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman in the alleged arrangement. Nisman was to testify Monday morning behind closed doors before a committee of the Argentine congress. Friends described him as a positive personality, not given to suicidal thoughts. Among the papers found in his apartment was a note to his maid on what to do when she cleaned the house Monday.

When Nisman’s death was revealed, thousands of the city’s residents gathered outside the presidential palace, some holding signs reading "Cristina murderer."

Some Jewish circles noted that Nisman, who was Jewish, died just a few hours after an Israeli air strike near the Golan Heights killed Iranian and Hezbollah figures, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, the mastermind behind the community center bombing.

Nisman, who is survived by two daughters, had expressed concern about his own possible assassination even before the helicopter attack that took the life of the younger Mughniyeh. It is not clear whether he was concerned about an attack from Argentinians involved in the mooted deal with Iran or Iranians.

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