New York Times report says lead investigator in prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death found draft of arrest warrant for President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Timerman at his apartment, pointing to heightened tension between the two parties before Nisman’s death.
The lead investigator into prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death said Tuesday that Nisman had drafted a warrant for the arrest of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner which accused her of trying to protect Iranian officials, hiding their responsibility in the 1994 AMIA bombing, a New York Times report claimed Tuesday.
Nisman had been investigating the source of the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and had claimed that President Kirchner had a role in covering up Iran’s role in the attack.
The document, which was 26 pages long, was found in the garbage at Nisman’s apartment in the luxury Puerto Madero neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It also included a request for the arrest of Foreign Minister Hector Timerman.
President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Timerman have denied, on several occasions, that they attempted to reach a secret deal with Iran in order to life international arrest warrants for Iranian officials wanted in connection the AMIA bombing.
The arrest warrants found at Nisman’s apartment point to the heightened tension between Nisman and the Argentina government before his death on January 18. He had been scheduled to take part in a hearing before Congress where he was due to present details surrounding his allegations against President Kirchner.
“It would have provoked a crisis without precedents in Argentina,” Sergio Berensztein, a political analyst, told the New York Times, pointing to the impact the warrants would have had if they had been issued.
Although previous legal cases had caused stirs in Argentina, they never involved a request to arrest a sitting president, explained Berensztein to the New York Times.
“It would have been a scandal on a level previously unseen,” Mr. Berensztein said to the New York Times.
President Kirchner, currently on a visit to china, did not immediately issue a response to the fact that Nisman had been seeking her arrest.
Viviana Fein, the prosecutor investigating Mr. Nisman’s death, confirmed that Mr. Nisman had prepared the draft of the warrant requesting the president’s and foreign minister’s arrest.
According to the New York Times report, confusion about the arrest warrant had emerged when Fein had initially denied its existence, after the Clarín newspaper published an article on Sunday about the draft.
President Kirchner’s cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, tore up the article before reporters on Monday, after which Fein correcter her previous statement and confirmed that the drafts of the arrest warrants did exist. According to the Clarín report, the drafts were prepared in June 2014, more than half a year before Nisman publically vocalized his accusations against the sitting president.
The drafts of the arrest warrants were not part of a 289-page criminal complaint against President Kirchner, the foreign minister and other prominent government officials that was filed by Nisman.
Nisman has accused Kirchner of blocking his decade-long investigation into the deadly AMIA attack which resulted in the death of 85 people.
A federal chamber is due to decide who should take the case after Nisman’s death – two judges have refused to accept the case thus far.
According to President Kirchner, agents from Argentina’s intelligence services were involved in helping prepare Nisman’s complaint. After Nisman’s death, Kirchner announced a plan to overhaul Argentina intelligence agency.
As the news of the drafts of the arrest warrants emerged, the details surrounding Nisman’s death remained clouded as the country continued to speculate whether his death was a murder or suicide. Kirchner has suggested that Nisman’s death was part of a plot to tarnish her government.