The Current

Questions mount in death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

The day before Argentina's top prosecutor was set to hand over a damning report pointing fingers at top officials at home and abroad, he was found dead in his apartment. We look at the drama unfolding in Argentina over the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman....
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The day before Argentina's top prosecutor was set to hand over a damning report pointing fingers at top officials at home and abroad, he was found dead in his apartment. We look at the drama unfolding in Argentina over the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman.

I was in the house and suddenly there was a big explosion and a lot of smoke. We started to run but then they took my brothers away and they were full of glass.- A distraught woman describing her experience to the CBC just after the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association

Now this week, more than 20 years on, aftershocks are rocking Argentine society once more.

The bombing at the Jewish centre, known as AMIA, was the country's worst ever terror attack, killing 85 and wounding hundreds. Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah has stood accused of the attack, in conjunction with Iran.

But investigations were marred by incompetence and obstruction of justice.

A woman holds a sign that reads "Justice" and an image of prosecutor Alberto Nisman during a demonstration to demand justice over Nisman's death in front of the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires on January 26, 2015. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)
That was all meant to change this month. The country's lead prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had been working a new investigation since 2004, and was finally set to release his report.

In public, he'd already said his findings were damning for some powerful people. He implicated the President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, even suggesting she'd struck a deal with Tehran to shield Iran from blame.

Then, the day before he was set to testify before congress, Alberto Nisman was found dead, alone in his apartment, with a gunshot wound to the head.

President Fernandez de Kirchner has publicly denied the accusations that Mr. Nisman was making against her. And when we asked Argentina's Embassy in Ottawa for comment, we were told the government had nothing to add beyond what she's already said.

His death may sound like something out of a spy novel, but the issues he was dealing with -- and those raised by his death -- are all too real.

For a closer look, we were joined by three guests:

  • Jonathan Watts is the Latin America correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. He was in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Uki Goñi is an Argentine author and journalist.
  • Matthew Levitt is Director of The Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Catherine Kalbfleisch.

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