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LATIN AMERICA

Discovery of gun registered to Nisman adds to mystery over his death

Argentinean prosecutor borrowed the weapon that killed him, despite already owning one

Nisman’s ex-wife Sandra Arroyo Salgado.
Nisman’s ex-wife Sandra Arroyo Salgado. EFE

Sara Garfunkel, the mother of deceased Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman, on Tuesday testified for the third time in the investigation into her son’s death. Garfunkel said Nisman had left some of his belongings at her house after separating from his wife three years ago and that she had found a .22 caliber pistol in a trunk and notified the federal prosecutor on the case, Viviana Fein.

The only person under official investigation in the case is an IT expert who worked for Nisman, Diego Lagomarsino. The computer technician said his boss asked him to borrow a gun for self-defense purposes after he filed a criminal complaint against Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on January 14, 2015, claiming that she had participated in covering up the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center by secretly negotiating a trade pact with Iran.

Lagomarsino supposedly lent Nisman a .22 caliber pistol, the same gun used to kill him on January 17 or 18.

The federal prosecutor on the case questioned Nisman’s mother about the account she, her son and Lagomarsino held

After Garfunkel’s testimony, police raided her home to seize Nisman’s gun. Now, there is even more mystery surrounding his death. Why would Nisman ask Lagomarsino for a gun for self-defense purposes when he already owned one of the same type? Did the prosecutor not want to scare his mother by going to her house to fetch his own gun? Although not under investigation for homicide, Lagomarsino has been charged with lending Nisman a gun with an expired license.

Prosecutor Fein questioned Nisman’s mother about a secret joint Bank of America Merrill Lynch account containing $600,000 that she, her son, her daughter Sandra and Lagomarsino held. The IT expert has said that he and Nisman were not friends but, if such was the case, it seems surprising that the deceased would have asked him for a gun and shared a secret bank account with him.

Lagomarsino also testified that his boss forced him to hand over half of his government salary.

The prosecutor asked Nisman’s mother about the contents of three safe deposit boxes her son held at two banks and at a financial firm. Garfunkel emptied them after Nisman’s death and before the police had a chance to review the contents.

Meanwhile, Nisman’s lawsuit against Kirchner remains alive. After a judge and a federal appeals panel rejected the case on the grounds that the prosecutor’s case did not indicate a crime had been committed, other judges have chosen to review it.

The federal court has accepted the appeal filed by prosecutor Germán Moldes against its ruling, meaning the case will now go before the Federal Cassation Court. If the court does not find any credibility in the criminal complaint, which alleged that the president took part in a cover-up to shield five Iranian nationals accused of killing 85 people at the AMIA center, the case will pass to the Supreme Court.

Still, the issue is losing ground as the political class turns its attention to local elections that began on Sunday in Salta where Kirchner supporters won. Santa Fe and Mendoza are due to hold their elections this weekend.

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