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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Argentine Government Accuses Nisman of Embezzlement



BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s Cabinet chief on Wednesday slammed late prosecutor Alberto Nisman as a “scoundrel” on the two-month anniversary of his death, accusing him of embezzling public funds.

“Nisman received funds to clear up the (deadly 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish organization in Buenos Aires),” Anibal Fernandez told reporters outside the presidential palace.

“If he used them to go out with women and pay ‘ñoquis’ (slang for government employees paid for work they haven’t done), then he was thumbing his nose all this time at the 85 people killed and more than 300 wounded.”

Nisman was fatally shot in his Buenos Aires apartment on Jan. 18, four days after bringing charges against President Cristina Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and six other people of trying to conceal Iran’s alleged role in that attack.

An aide to Nisman, IT consultant Diego Lagomarsino, who has been charged with lending Nisman the handgun used in his death, accuses the special prosecutor of withholding roughly half of his 41,000-peso monthly salary, according to Buenos Aires daily Pagina/12, which reported that Lagomarsino shared an account with Nisman and several of the special prosecutor’s family members in the United States.

The attorney for Lagomarsino, the only person charged thus far in Nisman’s death, was to inform the Attorney General’s Office Wednesday about the withheld wages, Pagina 12 reported.

“Lagomarsino says here that of the 40,000 pesos they gave him, 20,000 were deposited in a bank account. For starters, what he was doing was embezzling public funds, and there was also passive bribery,” the Cabinet chief said.

“It’s hard for one to believe that this man, on vacation at the time, was going to go to the home of the scoundrel who was stealing half of his salary to give him a gun to protect himself,” he added.

Lagomarsino has previously said that Nisman wanted the gun because he feared for his life.

Meanwhile, a group headed by Argentine philosopher Santiago Kovadloff held a demonstration Wednesday outside the Supreme Court building to honor Nisman two months after his death.

Kovadloff briefly responded to the Cabinet chief’s accusations against Nisman.

“He attacked a dead man. When you attack a dead man and discredit him in the way he did, it’s because that dead man is alive. If he’s alive, it’s because he’s has a great deal of significance. Because he has a great deal of significance, you have to discredit him,” he told Argentine television channel Todo Noticias.

The official investigation has not conclusively determined the cause of Nisman’s death, while an independent probe headed by Nisman’s ex-wife, Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, found that the prosecutor was murdered.

An Argentine judge late last month dismissed the charges that Nisman had brought against Fernandez, Timerman and the six other people and which had been taken up by another prosecutor.

Magistrate Daniel Rafecas found that the evidence does not provide even minimal support for the accusations and on the contrary “categorically contradicts” Nisman’s notion of a conspiracy.

Nisman’s accusation against Fernandez cited the Memorandum of Understanding her administration signed with Iran in 2013 to facilitate the AMIA investigation as the principal instrument of the purported cover-up.

The late prosecutor said that intercepts of telephone calls among some of the prospective defendants – though not Fernandez or Timerman – showed the outlines of a plan for Argentina to get Interpol to rescind the red notices the international police agency had issued for the arrest of Iranians accused in the AMIA bombing.

Yet the man who headed Interpol for 15 years until last November rebutted Nisman’s key accusation.

“I can say with 100 percent certainty, not a scintilla of doubt, that Foreign Minister Timerman and the Argentine government have been steadfast, persistent and unwavering that the Interpol’s red notices be issued, remain in effect and not be suspend or removed,” Ronald K. Noble said in January.

Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran’s Hezbollah allies.

Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement and the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction in the case.

In September 2004, 22 people accused in the bombing were acquitted after a process plagued with delays, irregularities and tales of witnesses’ being paid for their testimony.

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