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Argentina: 400,000-Strong March for Slain Prosecutor was ‘Opposition Protest’

The government of Argentina is attempting to dismiss the strength of Wednesday’s rally in honor of Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor found dead the day before he was to testify before Congress against the President of Argentina. Senior government officials described the somber “March of Silence” as “an opposition march” having little to do with Nisman.

“We have seen signs with insults and offenses directed at the President,” said Aníbal Fernández, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s (no relation) secretary general. He described the event repeatedly as “an opposition march” where “no one was honoring anybody.”

“Nothing has changed with what we have seen in the past: people telling her to die, that she is a mare, and they have no shame in exhibiting themselves like this,” Fernández said, indicating the insults directed at the President.

In statements published by Argentina’s La Nación Friday, Fernández continued to attack the march, claiming it was “an attempt to destabilize,” and warning organizers: “Don’t even dream of it, they have no idea what they would be getting themselves into.” And of those attending the rally, he stated, “I think the only ones honoring the prosecutor there were his family,” adding, “There were people dying of laughter there, as if it were a picnic.”

While Fernández de Kirchner herself has not remarked on the rally, other officials, such as cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich, accused the marchers of lobbying “aggravated expressions” at the Pink House (the Argentine equivalent of America’s White House).

Wednesday’s rally, one month after Nisman’s death, attracted 400,000 people, despite the inhospitable rainy weather. Multiple representatives of Argentina’s Jewish community were in attendance, including the officers running the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), whose bombing in 1994 Nisman was investigating.

Nisman was found with a bullet wound in his forehead on January 18 in his home. The next day, Nisman was to present to Argentina’s Congress a nearly 300-page report that accused Fernández de Kirchner of conspiring to protect the Hezbollah-linked terrorists responsible for the AMIA bombing to secure favorable gas prices from the Iranian government.

Fernández de Kirchner has denied charges of conspiracy with Iran and, instead, claimed that a cabal of secretive former government agents duped Nisman into believing she plotted in such a way to smear her name. Another prosecutor has picked up the case since Nisman’s death and formally charged Fernández de Kirchner and her Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman, with the accusations.

Prosecutor Viviana Fein, entrusted with the investigation into Nisman’s death, has revealed little pertaining to the evidence surrounding the case. She has faced criticism in light of a witness’s claim that she saw Argentine law enforcement officials engaging in highly unprofessional behavior at the scene of the crime, including using Nisman’s kitchen appliances to make themselves coffee and laughing loudly during the initial investigation. Fein announced Friday that the witness, who told media outlets she “lives in fear,” had “modified her testimony regarding the situation” and accused the media of having intimidated the witness into making accusations.

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