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Latin America

Argentinean prosecutors plan “silent” march to honor dead colleague

Forensic experts discover second DNA sample in Alberto Nisman’s apartment

People hold a vigil outside Congress in support of Nisman.
People hold a vigil outside Congress in support of Nisman. AP

A group of Argentinean prosecutors and investigators will organize a “silent protest” next week to mark the one-month anniversary of the mysterious death of their colleague, Alberto Nisman, who had been working on a case against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The government has criticized the scheduled February 18 demonstration, calling opposition politicians who plan on attending “opportunistic.”

“Given the frustration and pain among all the employees, officials and judges in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and Judiciary, as well as among citizens, we want to pay this tribute to our colleague,” said prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán.

But many are divided over the timing of the march.

Jorge Capitanich, Fernández de Kirchner’s Cabinet chief, said the prosecutors should spend their time “investigating” rather than holding a demonstration, which he described as an anti-government protest.

The government said the prosecutors should spend their time “investigating” rather than marching

With general elections scheduled for October, the majority of the presidential candidates have confirmed their assistance, as well as members of Argentina’s Jewish community – the largest in Latin America and the seventh-largest in the world.

Nisman, who was also Jewish, was found dead in his bathroom with a gunshot wound to his head on January 18. Just days before, he filed cover-up charges against Fernández de Kirchner and other officials for allegedly trying to divert his investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center – an attack that claimed 85 lives and left dozens injured.

The 51-year-old prosecutor claimed that the president was trying to seek impunity for Iranian officials charged in the terrorist bombing by seeking a grain-for-oil deal with Tehran.

The government has denied his charges.

Although no official cause of death has been made, a recent forensic test showed that the gunshot may have been self-inflicted.

But a second analysis conducted on the skin from Nisman’s hands concluded that no traces of gunshot residue were present. Results from the first examination performed at the scene also came back negative.

In the latest development, forensic scientists discovered a DNA sample on a coffee cup found in Nisman’s apartment that does not match that of the dead prosecutor.

A second analysis has found no traces of gunshot residue on Nisman’s hands

A Buenos Aires judge ordered a DNA sample to be taken from Diego Lagomarsino, a computer technician and Nisman’s close friend, who said he loaned him the gun that was found next to the body.

Lagomarsino has admitted being in the apartment drinking coffee with Nisman on January 17 – the day before his body was found – but said he left his friend alone that afternoon. Nisman asked him for the gun because he did not trust his bodyguards, Lagomarsino told a news conference.

Although the computer expert has been charged with a weapons violation, investigating prosecutor Viviana Fein has said Lagomarsino is not a murder suspect.

Nisman was scheduled to testify before Congress the day after his body was found about the charges he filed against the president, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and other officials who were allegedly trying to derail his investigation.

Next week’s planned march route will take demonstrators from Congress, past the Public Prosecutor’s Office and end at the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace.

A judges’ association that supports the Fernández de Kirchner government has also come out against the demonstration. Its leader, María Laura Garrigós de Rébori, alleged that the prosecutors who are organizing the march are supporters of Antonio Stiuso, the top intelligence officer fired by the president last December.

Stiuso was reportedly one of Nisman’s closest sources.

Even some of the family members of the victims who died in the 1994 attack said they would not attend the march because at least three of the prosecutors organizing the demonstration have delayed the investigation over the years.

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