Argentine prosecutor sought arrest of President before suspicious death

Argentine prosecutor sought arrest of President before suspicious death

Investigators examining the death of a prosecutor who accused Argentine president Cristina Fernandez of agreeing to shield the alleged masterminds of a terror bombing have found a document he wrote requesting her arrest.2

Chief investigator Viviana Fein said the draft detention request was found in a rubbish bin at the flat where Alberto Nisman’s body was discovered on January 18.

It was not included in a complaint the prosecutor had filed in federal court days earlier.

Mr Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound in his bathroom hours before he was to appear in Congress to detail his allegations that Ms 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. Ms Fernandez has dismissed the allegations against her.

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

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

But Clarin then published a copy of the draft, which was dated from June 2014. It said Mr Nisman had also considered requesting arrest orders against Ms Fernandez’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, and other government officials.

Ms Fernandez’s government and Clarin often clash, and the Nisman case has reignited the dispute.

For years, Ms Fernandez has been trying to break up Grupo Clarin, one of the leading media conglomerates in Latin America, while her government works to build up a large media presence of its own.

Yesterday, Ms Fein clarified her earlier statement, acknowledging the existence of the draft document.

She said she had made an error of “terminology and interpretation,” and there had been a miscommunication with her office.

But she insisted the existence of the document was “not important enough to change the course of the investigation”.

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

Why Mr Nisman may have changed tack is unclear, but it brings the focus back to Ms Fernandez, who has tried to distance herself from the case, in part by suggesting rogue elements in intelligence services were behind the death.

She is currently in China seeking investments, and before she left she submitted a proposal to Congress to reform the Secretary of Intelligence. A Senate committee took up the bill yesterday.

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

The authorities initially said he probably killed himself, but his supporters insisted the prosecutor would not have killed himself and even Ms Fernandez has said that, contrary to initial findings, his death could not have been a suicide.

Mr Nisman had spent almost a decade building up a case that Iran was behind the 1994 attack on the Jewish centre. Iran’s government has repeatedly denied the allegation.

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

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

Ms Fernandez has argued Argentina had nothing to gain from such a deal.

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