Alberto Nisman was found dead in his home hours before he was due in court to substantiate an accusation that Argentina’s president is working to let Iran off the hook for a 1994 terror attack in exchange for Iranian oil.
Nisman formally accused Argentine President Christina Kirchner on Wednesday of talking to Iranian Hezbollah agents suspected of blowing up the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, hoping to work a deal granting immunity to the state-sponsored terrorists in exchange for much-needed Iranian oil, reported The Wall Street Journal.
“I could end up dead because of this,” Nisman, 51, told an Argentine newspaper a few days later, according to Reuters. He had been investigating the case on his own for 10 years.
Sunday night, he was found dead.
The 1994 blast killed 85 people, making it one of the deadliest attacks on Jews since World War II. Argentina has accused Iran of sponsoring the attack, and in 2007 Interpol issued arrest warrants for a group of Iranians. But the families of the victims are still seeking justice.
Fernandez tried to form a joint “truth commission” in 2013 with Iran, ostensibly to continue investigating the bombing. But Nisman claimed he had years of phone calls proving the goal of the commission was to get the Iranian suspects off the hook, so Argentina could normalize relations with Iran and get oil needed to close the country’s yearly $7 billion energy deficit, reported Reuters.
Iran never ratified the commission, and an Argentine court struck it down. Fernandez’s Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich called Nisman’s allegations “crazy, absurd, illogical, irrational, ridiculous, unconstitutional,” and said the government has been working to resolve the case.
Nisman was found dead hours before he was supposed to explain the formal complaint in court. The official report from Argentina’s Ministry of National Security indicates his death was a suicide, reported The Daily Beast.
Ten federal agents were assigned to Nisman’s security team, but apparently none of them were on-duty when he died.
When some of the agents realized Sunday afternoon he was not answering his phone or the front door, and that the Sunday papers were still outside, they called his mother. She and some of the agents went to his apartment, and had to call a locksmith to unlock the front door.
Once inside they found his body inside the bathroom blocking the door. An empty shell casing and a .22 caliber handgun were also found nearby. The report doesn’t provide any more explicit detail about the condition of his body.
“Everything indicates it was a suicide,” Secretary of National Security Sergio Berni told local new outlets. “We have to see if gunpowder is found on his hands.”
The head of a group that represents Jewish interests in Argentina compared Nisman’s death to the initial bombing. “The bomb at AMIA has exploded again today,” Julio Schlosser said in a statement Monday.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry mourned Nisman’s death in a statement Monday, and told Argentine officials to continue his work, reported Reuters.
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