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Argentina: five years since the death of Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman had been the Special Prosecutor in charge of the 1994 AMIA bombing. The 2013 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Iran to facilitate the investigation led to a breach between Nisman and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Nisman alleged that the signing of the memorandum with Iran was part of an effort to cover-up alleged Iranian complicity in the AMIA bombing in exchange for improved trade relations.

Complaint against the Kirchner administration
In a complaint issued on Tuesday January 13, 2015, Nisman accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Minister of Foreign Relations Héctor Timerman, deputy Andrés Larroque and the piqueteros (an left-wing organization blocking streets as part of their protests) Luis D'Elia and Fernando Esteche of concealment. According to Nisman, they had guaranteed impunity of Iran with the memorandum to unblock relations with this country and impute some called "local fascists".

Nisman was supposed to present his report about the cover-up of the terrorist attack to AMIA on Monday 19 January. He was found dead hours before his presentation at the Congress.

Nisman was found next to a Bersa gun, .22 caliber, in his 13th-floor apartment in the Torre del Parque building within the upscale Le Parc Puerto Madero development located in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. At 3 a.m. on Monday, 19 January 2015, after Nisman's mother failed, to open the bathroom door, a locksmith managed to open a service door which was locked from inside. When they managed to get inside, Nisman's body was found lifeless on the floor, along with a pistol and a cap bullet.

While the .22 caliber gun that fired the fatal shot belonged to expert computer Diego Lagomarsino, who was Nisman's assistant, he could not explain how no fingerprints of his were present on the gun, as would be expected. He claimed to have brought it to the apartment upon request, because Nisman distrusted his own custody.

Five years after the death of the federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the federal justice took it for granted that it was a homicide, but it is still a crime without a motivation and without an author. Lagomarsino was prosecuted as a necessary participant of the death, for having brought him the gun from which the bullet that killed the prosecutor on January 18, 2015. Nisman's four custodians were prosecuted for breach of the duties of public officials and two of them for the crime of cover-up.

The apartment on the day of Nisman's death

The main door. It was locked inside with a lock. The newspaper was at the entrance of the apartment.

The service door. According to the testimony of the locksmith who opened it. The service door had the key inside with a small turn of a millimeter locking it. That allowed the locksmith to easily proceed to the opening of the door.

Computer. The computer expertise directed by the National Gendarmerie determined that on the morning of Sunday 18, Nisman's computer was on. According to that report, it was not hacked and was used to navigate from 07:01 in the morning through several Internet sites.

Table. On his work table there were seven highlighters, papers and files.

Manipulated evidence
On Saturday 17 at 18:27 hours Nisman had sent the deputy Waldo Wolff a photo via whatsapp in which he showed his work table with highlighters and papers:

When the police authorities entered Nisman's apartment, the seven highlighters on the table, papers and files were on his desk. According to prosecutor Viviana Fein, there was no change in the disposition of the papers and highlighters, that is to say that no one stole or changed the location of the evidence:

During the forensic search more evidence was altered either by the careless procedures carried out by the experts as well as the presence of too many people at the place. One of the witnesses claimed that evidence was manipulated and that she even used one of the toilets of Nisman's apartment.

The gun was covered by blood on one side, but the other side was clean. However, the experts at the crime left blood stains all over the gun, covering possible fingerprints.

 The charger was also clean, but it was contaminated by the forensic expert. Even the bullets, which were originally clean, were covered with blood.

The gun, charger and bullets were sent to the Laboratory of the Federal Police completely clean. All possible evidence was ruined by the forensic work.

The toilet

Nisman was found in a dorsal recumbent position, parallel to the bathtub and with his head resting on the bathroom wall and door and the gun, as described by authorites, found below his left shoulder blade.

The carpet. According to the Gendarmerie report, the position of the bath mat is demonstrative of the presence of third parties in the event: “... had it been a self-inflicted shot and in solitude, the fall of the body to the ground would have moved it from the place, wrinkled and / or folded ”

The green cloth Lagomarsino declared that when he handed the gun to Nisman, it was wrapped in a green cloth. Next to the blood stains seen in the images captured by the Federal Police, there is a green cloth. At the request of the complaint, prosecutor Fein added him to the case.

Blood on the counter. It is a long line of thick drops of blood on top and that are located on the bathroom counter, next to the sink. For Justice it is key in the interpretation of the event.

Death theory #1: Murder

The National Gendarmerie's expertise concluded that there were no traces of defensive acts by Nisman and alluded to the finding of ketamine in low concentration.

Gendarmerie said that Nisman was beaten, drugged with ketamine and taken to the bathroom. He was placed on his knees in front of the bathtub with his torso upright and his right knee resting on the floor, while one attacker held him and the other shot him.

Blood stains on the counter are due to what forensics call "backpattern," a spray of blood that projects through the entrance hole when the projectile enters. The shape of the stain indicates that the shot was not from 1.80 m (Nisman's height) but from below

The body was placed by the attackers in the position in which it was found in the bathroom

The Gendarmerie report also shows that the internal trajectory of the bullet in the cranial cavity zone is from back to front, from right to left slightly from bottom to top.

Death theory #2: Suicide

Ketamine was not found in the toxicological study of the Forensic Medical Corps of the Supreme Court. They found no evidence that Nisman had been drugged and understood that the blows he had could not be recent.

The autopsy done in the Morgue by the Forensic Medical Corps of the Supreme Court concluded that "there was no participation of third parties in the death of Alberto Nisman."

Diego Lagomarsino's defense stated that the blood stain on the counter adjusts to the production of a mechanism combined with the output of blood from the entrance hole and the reflex expulsion of blood through the mouth.

The body fell back and was in the position where it was found in the bathroom.

The Judicial Morgue determined that the bullet went from right to left, slightly from front to back and slightly from bottom to top.

Attempt to change Nisman's cause of death
The recently elected president, Alberto Fernández has announced the intention to launch an audit of the forensic research of Nisman's case. It is seen by many as an interference of the executive branch in the judicial system.

The reasons are more than obvious: Argentina's Vicepresident is Cristina Kirchner.

Photos: @SherSpooner / Argentine Federal Justice
3D model: Alejandro Bogado and Gabriela Podestá for La Nación. Edit: PostDiscus.

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