Argentina president ‘named in Nisman arrest warrant’

Draft document by deceased prosecutor reportedly accuses President Fernandez of shielding masterminds of 1994 bombing.

File photo of Argentine prosecutor Nisman, who is investigating the 1994 car-bomb attack on a Jewish community center, speaking in Buenos Aires
Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment on January 18, 2015 [Reuters]

Investigators examining the death of a prosecutor who accused Argentine President Cristina Fernandez of agreeing to shield the alleged masterminds of a 1994 bombing, say they have found a draft document he wrote requesting her arrest.

Viviana Fein, the chief investigator, said on Tuesday the draft detention request was found in a trash bin of the Buenos Aires apartment where Alberto Nisman’s body was discovered on January 18.

It was not included in a complaint Nisman had filed in federal court just days earlier.

Nisman was found dead of a bullet wound in his bathroom hours before he was to appear in Congress to detail his allegations that Fernandez agreed to protect those responsible for the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ largest Jewish community centre.

The attack, which killed 85 people, remains unsolved.

Fernandez has dismissed the allegations against her.

Fein at first denied the existence of the document requesting Fernandez’s arrest after Argentina’s Clarin newspaper published an article about it on Sunday.

Jorge Capitanich, the cabinet chief, tore up the article in front of reporters on Monday and said it was a lie produced by the “opposition media”.

Final complaint

Clarin then published a copy of the draft, which was dated from June 2014.

The report said Nisman also had considered requesting arrest orders against Fernandez’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, and other officials in the government.

The final complaint Nisman submitted to judicial authorities called for Fernandez and Timerman to face questions in court instead.

On Tuesday, Fein clarified her earlier statement, acknowledging the existence of the draft document and saying she made an error of “terminology and interpretation”, and there had been a miscommunication with her office.

“The words I should have used are: ‘I know that there was a draft'” of a document, she said. But she said its existence “is not important enough to change the course of the investigation”.

Fernandez’s government and the Grupo Clarin, which owns the newspaper, have often clashed and the Nisman case has reignited the dispute.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories have swirled around Nisman’s death since his body was found.

Authorities initially said he probably committed suicide, but his supporters insist he would not have killed himself and even Fernandez has said that, contrary to initial findings, his death could not have been a suicide.

Nisman had spent almost a decade building up a case that Iran was behind the 1994 attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association.

Iran’s government has repeatedly denied the allegation.

Nisman had feared for his safety and 10 federal police were assigned to protect him. The officers were suspended as part of the investigation but none have been named as suspects.

Nisman alleged that Fernandez agreed to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in exchange for trade benefits, especially in oil.

Fernandez, who had come under fierce criticism for her handling of Nisman’s death, is currently on a trip to China.

Source: AP