Dead Argentine prosecutor wary even of his guards: Aide

    April20/ 2022
    Last Updated:

    Buesnos Aires: The prosecutor whose suspicious death set off a crisis for Argentina President Cristina Kirchner no longer trusted even his bodyguards at the violent end of his life, an assistant said Wednesday. A tense Diego Lagomarsino, his voice breaking at times, recounted at a news conference in Buenos Aires how Alberto Nisman had pleaded to be given the .22-caliber revolver that was used to put a bullet through his head. Who pulled the trigger is not clear. Nisman`s security chief has been suspended and is under investigation along with two other members of his guard detail, a court source said. The 51-year-old special prosecutor was found dead at his home January 18, a day before he was to go before a congressional committee to make a bombshell accusation: that Kirchner shielded Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish charities office, known as AMIA. Lagomarsino, a computer expert and the last person known to have seen Nisman alive, said the prosecutor was desperate for the gun, saying: "I no longer trust even my guards." "He told me that he was not going to use the weapon," Lagomarsino said. The car-bombing of the AMIA was the worst terror strike on Argentine soil in modern history and remains a wound in the collective history of Argentina`s Jewish community, Latin America`s largest. No prosecution has been completed in the case, two decades on; 85 people were killed and 300 injured. Kirchner denies the claims prepared by Nisman, and alleges that his death -- which initially was suspected suicide -- was a plot to discredit her, suggesting Nisman was manipulated by former intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her. Nisman contended that the government had agreed to swap grain for oil with Tehran in exchange for withdrawing "red notices" to Interpol seeking the arrests of the former and current Iranian officials accused in the bombing.According to Lagomarsino, Nisman told him that -- as well as his own safety -- he also feared for that of his two daughters, who are seven and 15 years old and were on vacation in Spain at the time. "Do you know what it is like that your daughters don`t want to be with you because they are afraid something will happen to them?" Lagomarsino quoted Nisman as saying. Lagomarsino, who had been reluctant to hand it over, said Nisman badly wanted the gun to "carry it in the glove compartment in case some crazy person came by shouting, `You traitor!` This was a weapon that was truly on its last legs." After Nisman`s death, Lagomarsino was charged with giving a firearm to someone other than its registered owner. He is the only person to be charged so far in the murky case. He was at the news conference with his lawyer, Maximiliano Rusconi, who said earlier he would ask that Kirchner be called to testify in his client`s case.On Monday, Kirchner, 61, announced plans to disband Argentina`s Intelligence Office and replace it with a new federal intelligence agency. Investigators initially said they believed Nisman committed suicide, but classified his death as "suspicious" and said they have not ruled out murder or an "induced suicide." Ruben Benitez, a Nisman confidant who has been suspended, coordinated a security team of 10 officers who protected the prosecutor. According to a leaked statement made to the investigation`s head prosecutor, Benitez said he advised Nisman against buying a gun just days before his death. But the suspended officers have come under scrutiny for contradictory statements to the investigating prosecutor, Viviana Fein. Nisman was mourned at a small family-only ceremony Wednesday at a Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Some demonstrators showed their respects outside waving signs reading "Cristina = Killer" and "We are all Nisman." Kirchner was planning to travel to key economic partner China on Saturday despite the maelstrom. AFP

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