Argentina: President’s plea after death riddle

The death of Alberto Nisman before he could give evidence against the government has seen protesters gather in Buenos Aires'Picture: PA
The death of Alberto Nisman before he could give evidence against the government has seen protesters gather in Buenos Aires'Picture: PA
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PRESIDENT Cristina Fernandez called on Congress to dissolve Argentina’s intelligence services in the wake of the mysterious death of a prosecutor, strongly denying his accusation that she had sought to shield former Iranian officials suspected over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre.

In a televised address on Monday, her first since the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman just hours before he was to give potentially explosive testimony on the alleged cover-up, Ms Fernandez said her proposal to create a new spy agency would be presented to politicians by the end of the week.

President Cristina Fernandez in her address to Argentina. Picture: Getty

President Cristina Fernandez in her address to Argentina. Picture: Getty

She did not say who might have killed Mr Nisman, but in recent letters posted on social media she had suggested rogue intelligence agents may have orchestrated the death in a plot against her government. In the speech, she gave no new details of the alleged plot. Ms Fernandez herself oversees the intelligence agencies in question.

She said reforming the clandestine services was a “national debt” the country has had since the return of democracy in 1983. Argentina had several years of a brutal dictatorship, and the president suggested that the problems of today had their roots in the years of that ­military government.

Mr Nisman, 51, was found dead on 18 January in the bathroom of his apartment, a bullet lodged in his right temple. Detectives found a .22 calibre gun next to him. His death came days after he gave a judge a report alleging that Ms Fernandez, 61, secretly reached a deal to prevent prosecution of former Iranian officials accused of involvement in the 1994 bombing of Argentina’s largest Jewish centre, which killed 85 people.

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She allegedly reached the deal in exchange for trade benefits with Iran.

Iran denied the accusation.

Mr Nisman’s death has produced anti-government protests and myriad conspiracy theories, ranging from suicide to the involvement of Iranian intelligence agents.

Appearing calm, Ms Fernandez began with a defence of all her government had done to try to solve the 1994 case.

She lamented that more than 20 years later nobody had been convicted or even detained.

She noted that her predecessor, husband and former president Nestor Kirchner, had ­appointed Mr Nisman to the case after years of paralysis.

Ms Fernandez, 61, said the new “Federal Intelligence Agency” would have a director and deputy, and only a few in government would have access to the agency heads

In a letter published on 19 January, Ms Fernandez suggested Mr Nisman committed suicide. Three days later, however, she did an about-face, suggesting he had been killed.