By Elsa Buchanan, International Politics Correspondent
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argentina, has said that she does not believe that prosecutor Alberto Nisman committed suicide, as new findings raise questions over his death.
Nisman, who accused the Argentinian President and members of her government of colluding with prime suspects Iran to cover-up the investigation into the bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 in 1994, was found dead on Sunday in what appeared to be a suicide.
On the eve of his testimony to Congress during which he was expected to detail his accusation that Kirchner, her foreign minister and other top officials had agreed to shield Iranian officials who allegedly masterminded the bombing, he was found lying inside his apartment, with a .22 calibre handgun by his side.
While Viviana Fein, the lead investigator into the prosecutor’s death, said on Monday (19 January) it appeared to be suicide, Kirchner argued that, despite the suicide hypothesis bough forward by the police, she did not believe he killed himself.
“Today, I do not have proof, but I do not have any doubt,” Kirchner said in a blog post on her website on Thursday (22 January).
In her lengthy note, which makes use of the anaphora “Why would someone who… commit suicide?”, Kirchner keeps clear from speculating on who could have wanted him head, or why.
As part of the post, the president published a series of WhatsApp messages screenshots of Nisman’s instant messages to his friends telling them he was returning to Argentina to work on the case after cutting short his family holidays in Europe.
In the same messages, Nisman says he is confident about the case, adding that “sooner or later, the truth will come out”.
Kirchner has strongly denied Nisman’s accusations of covering up Iranian involvement, in return for favourable oil deals.
Her blog post repeats her assertions that Nisman’s accusations against her were untrue.
Friends and family had immediately rejected Fein’s findings that the apartment’s door was locked from the inside and there were no signs of forced entry.
However, no suicide note was found and a test of Nisman’s hand showed no gunpowder residue – though Fein said that might have been due to the small calibre of the gun.
On Tuesday (20 January), the ex-wife of the prosecutor, judge Sandra Arroyo, told reporters she did not believe an initial finding that he killed himself.
On Thursday (22 January), a locksmith came forward, saying the service door was not fully locked at the apartment where Nisman was found shot dead.
The locksmith, who was only named as Walter, said: “The service door wasn’t closed. I simply pushed the key and entered in two minutes,” raising speculation about whether a killer might have entered or exited the 13th-floor apartment.
Meanwhile, investigators revealed the existence of a third access to the home, a previously unknown entry. The narrow passage holding air-conditioning equipment connects to a neighbouring apartment occupied by an unidentified foreigner.
The death caused a crisis for the government, which scrambled to promise “maximum transparency and cooperation” in the investigation. as crowds gathered late on Monday evening at the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential residence and in other cities to demand authorities look into Nisman. Many chanted “I want justice”.
Nisman was appointed in 2005 by then-president Nestor Kirchner, Fernández’s husband, to revive the floundering investigation.
Iran has been accused of being behind the bombing – which commentators say was orchestrated to punish Argentina for pulling out of nuclear deals – something Tehran has always denied.