Slain Argentine prosecutor reportedly considered arresting president

A woman holds up a "Justice" sign with others outside the funeral home where a private wake was held for prosecutor Alberto Nisman in Buenos Aires.
A woman holds up a “Justice” sign with others outside the funeral home where a private wake was held for prosecutor Alberto Nisman in Buenos Aires.
(Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press)

Special prosecutor Alberto Nisman was apparently considering an arrest warrant for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner before his death Jan. 18, according to a published report.

Nisman was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment from a gunshot wound to the head days after publicly accusing the president, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other officials of involvement in a coverup tied to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in which 85 people died.

The prosecutor who had been assigned since 2004 to lead the investigation of the bombing had accused Fernandez of making a deal in 2013 with the Iranian government to cover up Iranian officials’ alleged involvement in the blast. He called it an “alliance with terrorism.”


Earlier, Nisman had accused Iranian officials, some of them operating out of the country’s Buenos Aires embassy, of giving terrorist group Hezbollah financial and logistical aid in carrying out the attack. Nisman said Fernandez’s motivation for the deal may have been in exchange for trade deals.

Fernandez has denied involvement in such a coverup but days after Nisman’s death said she believed his death was a homicide. Nisman died the day before he was to have provided evidence to Argentina’s Congress backing up his claim.

The Argentine newspaper Clarin reported Sunday that among the trash found in Nisman’s apartment was a draft of an arrest warrant for Fernandez in connection with the alleged bombing coverup. Nisman apparently was only considering taking such action, and the final document that Nisman delivered to a judge before his death did not include such a warrant, Clarin reported.

On Monday, Fernandez’s Cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, described the Clarin report as garbage, tore up a copy of the paper before reporters, and indicated that prosecutor Viviane Fein had lied when she said such a document was found at Nisman’s home.

On Tuesday, Fein confirmed that the draft of the arrest warrant was among Nisman’s trash. Also on Tuesday, Clarin printed facsimiles of the documents that Nisman had apparently crumpled up before discarding.

The Inter-American Press Assn. said Tuesday in a statement that Capitanich’s actions were an “act of intimidation” and harmful to freedom of the press.


Nisman’s death remains shrouded in mystery more than two weeks after he was found with a bullet wound to the temple and .22-caliber revolver lying nearby.

Fernandez said she suspects rogue intelligence agents who gave Nisman false information to discredit her government may have carried out the crime.

A week after Nisman’s death, Fernandez announced that she was considering dissolving the country’s intelligence agency.

Special correspondents D’Alessandro and Kraul are based in Buenos Aires and Bogota respectively.