Argentina's Kirchner claims prosecutor died in operation to frame government

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner has said she believes the death of Buenos Aires prosecutor Alberto Nisman was not suicide. Instead, she contested, it was part of a plot to mire her government in scandal.

Kirchner said on Thursday that she was convinced prosecutor Alberto Nisman did not commit suicide, suggesting that he might have been killed as part of a plot to implicate her government.

Americas | 22.01.2015

Before his death, Nisman had written a report accusing Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of seeking to avoid the prosecution of eight Iranians. This, he had contended, was done in a bid to win favor in Tehran.

Nisman was found dead on Sunday with bullet wound to his head and a .22 caliber handgun and a bullet casing by his body. The initial suspicion was that the 51-year-old had taken his own life, although there were suggestions of foul play.

Argentinischer Staatsanwalt Alberto Nisman

Nisman was found dead at his home, with a gun and bullet casings beside him

In a post on her Internet site, Kirchner maintained that the lawyer - the lead prosecutor in a case against suspects in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center - was killed to immerse her government in scandal.

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"I'm convinced that it was not suicide," said Kirchner, asserting that Nisman's accusation in itself had never been credible - and therefore represented no threat to her administration.

'The true operation'

Kirchner suggested instead that Nisman's death had been carefully timed and the prosecutor himself had been used to frame her and other officials.

"The true operation against the government was the prosecutor's death after accusing the president, her foreign minister, and the secretary-general of (her political faction) of covering up for the Iranians accused in the AMIA attack," Kirchner said.

The Argentine president gave no evidence to support her theory, and did not elaborate on who she believed was behind the alleged conspiracy.

Oil for grain

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The 280-page report filed by Nisman contained a complaint that Kirchner had issued an "express directive" to shield the Iranian suspects. Nisman contended the Buenos Aires government had agreed to swap grain for oil with Tehran, in exchange for the withdrawal of "red notices" to Interpol requesting the extradition of the suspects.

A total of 84 people died and more than 300 were injured in the AMIA bombing, when a van filled with explosives was detonated in front of the building.

Argentine courts have been demanding the extradition of eight Iranians since 2006. They include former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi and Iran's former cultural attache in Buenos Aires, Mohsen Rabbani.

Argentine Jewish leaders have opposed a deal with Iran concerning the setting up of a "truth commission" looking into the bombing, Argentina's worst-ever terrorist incident.

rc/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)