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Saturday November 25th, 2017 6:17AM

Argentine prosecutor says colleague's death was murder

By The Associated Press
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A prosecutor is formally declaring for the first time that the man probing Argentina's worst terror attack was murdered and didn't kill himself, a member of the prosecution team said Wednesday.

The opinion presented to a judge by prosecutor Eduardo Taiano reignites a case that shook Argentine politics with suspicions of high-level homicide in the 2015 death of crusading prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Judge Julian Ercolini will now decide whether to accept Taiano's conclusion and formally declare the case a murder investigation, rather than one of "suspicious death."

The prosecution staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the agency's rules, said Taiano also asked the judge to order testimony by computer specialist Diego Lagomarsino, a Nisman aide who owned the gun used to kill the prosecutor. The aide has said he loaned the gun to Nisman for protection because the prosecutor feared for his and his daughters' lives.

Nisman's death came four days after he formally accused then-President Cristina Fernandez of covering up Iranian officials' role in a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Nisman accused Fernandez and other senior officials of brokering the deal in exchange for favorable deals on oil and other goods from Iran.

Fernandez has always insisted she had nothing to with a cover-up or with Nisman's death, while Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombing.

Details of Taiano's report were not made public.

The initial police reports and autopsies concluded there was no sign anyone else had been present when Nisman died of a gunshot wound to the head. The national forensics team said there was no concrete evidence it was a homicide and federal police said the prosecutor shot himself.

Nisman was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment on Jan. 18, 2015. It was a day before he was scheduled to describe his allegations against Fernandez to Congress.

Taiano's opinion said he suspects Lagomarsino left the gun in Nisman's apartment so the actual killer or killers could use it and make the murder appear to be a suicide.

Lagomarsino's attorney did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the prosecutor's statement.

The initial police investigations in the case were widely questioned, and police were criticized for allowing numerous people into the apartment, possibly contaminating the scene for investigators.

A new investigation commissioned by Taiano, headed by the country's Border Police, said Nisman apparently was killed by two people who drugged him and shot him after posing him against a bathtub.

"The Nisman case has had an enormous impact in Argentine society and abroad," political analyst Sergio Berenzstein said. "This report by the border police only opens more that unhealed wound."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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