Tags: argentina | slain | prosecutor | investigation | cristina fernandez de Kirchner | arrest

Investigator: Slain Argentine Prosecutor Wanted President's Arrest

Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 10:10 PM

An Argentine prosecutor found dead the day before he was expected to make explosive allegations about President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had drafted a request that she be arrested for conspiring to derail his probe into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, the lead investigator into his death said Tuesday.

The 26-page document, found in the trash at Alberto Nisman's apartment while his property was being scoured for clues over whether the father-of-two committed suicide or was slain, also sought the arrest of Héctor Timerman, Argentina’s foreign minister, The New York Times reports.

Nisman was found in a pool of blood with a single bullet to the head Jan. 18 – a day before he was supposed to have given details about his accusations against Kirchner to Congress.

"The drafts are in the file," Viviana Fein, the lead investigator into Nisman's death, told a local radio station.

Both Kirchner and Timerman have repeatedly denied Nisman’s accusation they tried to reach a secret deal with Iran to lift international arrest warrants for Iranian officials wanted in connection with the bombing, The Times reports.

"It would have provoked a crisis without precedents in Argentina," political analyst Sergio Berensztein told The Times about the impact the arrest requests would have created.

"It would have been a scandal on a level previously unseen."

Kirchner, who is on a visit to China, didn't immediately comment about the bombshell news.

"It is totally baseless, the accusation of Mr. Nisman," Timerman told The Times before reports emerged the prosecutor had considered seeking his and Kirchner's arrest. "Why didn’t he call Interpol to see if it was true? He didn’t."

The request for Kirchner's arrest, which the prominent pro-opposition daily newspaper Clarin said Nisman drafted in June, was not included in his final 350-page submission to the judiciary delivered days before his death.

Instead Nisman called for Kirchner to face questions in court.

On Monday, Fein's office had denied the existence of the document containing the arrest request and the government denounced a Clarin story about it as "garbage."

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich even dramatically tore up a copy of the paper in his daily news briefing. But on Tuesday, Fein backtracked, saying there'd been a misunderstanding between her and her office, and the documents did exist.

Nisman spent almost a decade building up a case that Iran was behind the 1994 attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association that killed 85 people. Iran's government has repeatedly denied the allegation.

In his criminal complaint, Nisman accused Kirchner and a group of her supporters of covering up a secret outreach effort to the Iranians, describing it as an attempt to derail his investigation, and he asked for their assets to be frozen, The Times reports.

But Argentine judges are proving reluctant to take on a case some are calling a "judicial hot potato." Two judges turned down hearing the case Monday, including one who is already presiding over separate charges of attempts to derail the investigation into the 1994 bombing.

A federal chamber is expected to decide who should take the case, The Times reports.

Legal experts say the draft found in Nisman’s apartment was not valid in an Argentine court of law, and needed more than just the prosecutor’s wishes to move forward in the legal system, The Times reports.

'It is not signed; it is a draft," María del Carmen Besteiro, head of the Buenos Aires Association of Lawyers, told The Times. "Nisman was a prosecutor. The one who has to make the accusation and who has to decide it is a judge."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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An Argentine prosecutor found dead the day before he was expected to make explosive allegations about President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had drafted a request that she be arrested for conspiring...
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2015-10-03
Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 10:10 PM
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