Argentina’s President denies link to lawyer death

Argentina President Cristina Fernand

Argentina President Cristina Fernand. Photo: Sky News

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez has announced an overhaul of secret services while dismissing claims that government officials had any involvement in the mysterious death of a leading lawyer the day before he was to testify on government corruption.

Sky News reports that Alberto Nisman was found dead in his flat in Buenos Aires on 18 January with a gun nearby. Initially it was claimed he had committed suicide, but officials later said homicide or “induced” suicide could not be ruled out.

At the time of his death, Mr Nisman had been investigating the bombing of a Jewish center in 1994 in which 85 people were killed and more than 200 injured. Iranian officials are suspected of being behind the attack. He had been due to testify before MPs against senior government officials amid allegations of a cover-up.

Alberto Nisman. Photo: Sky News

Alberto Nisman. Photo: Sky News

Days before he was found dead in his apartment, Mr Nisman alleged the president had secretly reached a deal to prevent any prosecution of the Iranians in exchange for economic and trade benefits with Tehran.

But Ms Fernandez said that a 2013 deal with Iran – which many in the country have bitterly criticized – was aimed only at obtaining cooperation with Iran to finally seek justice for the bombing of the AMIA (Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association) building.

Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement.

In her first public comments since the prosecutor’s death, Ms Fernandez said her government had nothing to gain from protecting the Iranian officials suspected of involvement in the attack.

“It’s unreasonable to think our government could even be suspected of such a manoeuvre,” she said.

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Critics of Kirchner’s administration have charged it with corruption, cronyism, falsification of public statistics, harassment of Argentina’s independent media and use of the national tax agency as a censorship tool. She frequently blames the United States for all difficulties, evils and the time of day – just like President Barack Obama.