After a team of forensic experts ruled in September that the 2015 shooting death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was, indeed, murder – not suicide as the authorities had initially ruled – a federal judge has validated those findings in a lengthy ruling that seems to point the finger at former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The ruling is the latest blow to Fernandez, who won her bid for a senate seat in October. Though Fernandez has publicly said her decision to run is part of a political comeback, others have speculated that she ran for her senate seat to help insulate herself from accusations of money laundering and corruption, as well as her suspected work to cover up Iran’s role in financing the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires - a bombing that killed 85 people.
Years later, Nisman was assigned to investigate a possible cover-up of Iranian officials’ role in the bombing. But he was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in January 2015, hours before he was due to testify against former President Fernandez The ruling comes after a prosecutor recommended last year that the case be investigated as a murder.
In another stunning decision, Tuesday’s ruling by the Argentine judge also charged that Diego Lagomarsino, a former employee of Nisman’s, was an accessory to his murder, after a gun owned by Lagomarsino was found near Nisman’s body, as Reuters reported.
In a 656-page ruling, judge Julian Ercolini said there was sufficient proof to conclude that the shot to the head that killed Nisman in January 2015 was not self-inflicted. That marked the first time any judge has said the case was a murder.
Fernandez and others had suggested the death was a suicide, but a prosecutor investigating the case last year recommended it be pursued as a murder probe.
“Nisman’s death could not have been a suicide,” Ercolini wrote in Tuesday’s ruling, which also charged Diego Lagomarsino, a former employee of Nisman‘s, with accessory to murder.
Lagomarsino has acknowledged lending Nisman the gun that killed him the day before he was to appear before Congress to detail his allegation against Fernandez. But he has said Nisman asked him for the gun to protect himself and his family.
Earlier this month, Fernandez was formally charged with treason by a federal judge, and a federal judge called for her arrest. But before her arrest, Congress would have to vote to strip Fernandez of her immunity.
Meanwhile, her former Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, was placed under arrest and confined to his home, where he wrote this New York Times op-ed professing his innocence and claiming to be a political prisoner.
In an unrelated case, Fernandez and her two children were indicted back in April on corruption charges related to deals involving a family owned real-estate company.
After leaving office in December 2015 following eight years in power – a period where Argentina’s economy experienced continued decline.
Her successor, the center-right former Mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri, has swiftly implemented pro-growth economic reforms like abolishing the country’s capital controls and reaching a settlement with a group of US hedge funds led by Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corporation.
Now, the possibility that Fernandez will be held accountable for her actions is looking increasingly likely.