Alberto Nisman, a top Argentine prosecutor found shot in the head the day before he was to testify that his government had a hand in protecting the orchestrators of the worst terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, drafted an arrest warrant for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner shortly before his death.
The New York Times reports that government officials initially denied that such a document existed, but they later confirmed that they had, in fact, found arrest warrants for both Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman in Nisman’s garbage. Neither that arrest warrant nor any mention of it was found in the nearly 300-page report Nisman was to present before the Argentine Congress the day after his death, detailing how Fernández de Kirchner’s government had attempted to protect the terrorists behind the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), in which 81 Argentine citizens were killed. The cover-up, Nisman argues in that report, was an attempt to curry favor with the government of Iran–believed to have had a hand in the bombings–and secure low prices for Iranian oil.
Viviana Fein, the prosecutor investigating Nisman’s death, initially denied that warrants related to the AMIA investigation existed. Now, La Nación reports, she has confirmed that they were found, and that the denials were “an error of interpretation.” The document itself was initially published in the newspaper Clarín and clearly demands that Fernández de Kirchner and Timerman both be arrested, have their assets frozen, and be forbidden from leaving the nation. The accusation accuses Fernández de Kirchner of participating in “a deliberate cover-up plan, conceived and destined to disassociated Iranian fugitives of serious accusations surfacing in the investigation of the attack against the AMIA center.”
The New York Times notes that a potential reason for the arrest warrant having been found in the garbage–and not with the report Nisman was to present the day after his death–may be that Nisman was concerned that such an incendiary document would be interpreted by the public as a “political attack.” While valid, experts tell The New York Times the document itself could not have led to any arrests; the President and Foreign Minister both enjoy executive immunity and would have to be impeached before they could be arrested.
Fernández de Kirchner has not responded publicly to this development. She is not currently in Argentina, but in Beijing, looking to strengthen trade relations with China. The silence is uncharacteristic. Fernández de Kirchner has been extremely vocal about the case, writing an extensive blog post on her website demanding answers on the Nisman case, insisting that his death was not a suicide, and proclaiming her innocence in both his death and the AMIA bombing or subsequent cover-ups.