Yesterday, we, the Argentine people, were informed of the full text of Prosecutor Nisman’s accusation. It has always been said that the English language, when compared to the Spanish language, does not use as many words to define objects, situations, descriptions, etc. And that is true. But this time, after looking at and reading the front page of the “Buenos Aires Herald” newspaper, I must recognize that the economy of words also has its advantages.
That newspaper expresses its opinion on the accusation made by Prosecutor Nisman and does so with surgical —or perhaps linguistic— precision. Superimposed on a facsimile of the accusation, two categorical words: ¨Nothing new¨.
As if that were not enough, it adds the following subheading: ¨Nisman’s report fails to fan flames of conspiracy¨. Failure and conspiracy; two words that, had they been used by this President, would have come under a barrage of fierce criticism. I believe no one can accuse that English language newspaper of being close to or co-opted by the Government.
I could also refer to the analysis made by Horacio Verbitsky —¨Alerta roja¨ (Red Alert)— published in Página 12 newspaper on this day, or to the article written by Raúl Kollman, in the same newspaper, on pages 2 and 3… But, of course, there would always be someone to challenge their views even though they are both journalists who have analyzed and followed the AMIA case from the very beginning. Moreover, Horacio Verbitsky presides over the CELS (Centre of Legal and Social Studies), which represents the relatives of victims of the bombing, who are part of the Memoria Activa (Active Memory) group.
The Buenos Aires Herald, Página 12 and other media (I do not wish to be unfair to anyone), brought down like a house of cards the so-called “accusation of the century” —which would supposedly prove nothing less than the complicity of the Argentine President, the Argentine Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General of the political group La Cámpora in the cover-up of the Iranian nationals accused of having participated in the AMIA bombings 21 years ago—.
For my part, I must confess that after a quick reading of the accusation published in the Judicial Information Centre (CIJ), the web site of the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice, my worst suspicions were confirmed and I found an answer to many of the questions I asked on 19 January in the ONLY letter I wrote and shared with the Argentine people: “AMIA. Once Again: Tragedy, Confusion, Lies and Questions”.
I write “only” in capital letters because today “A new letter by Cristina” (sic) was published and discussed. That is NOT true. There was only one letter and it was disseminated through different web systems. It suffices to read the text. But in Argentina, as I always say, one must explain time and time again that which is obvious and simple.
This is the second letter and I write it precisely because I have finally had access to the text of the accusation, like the rest of the Argentine people. That is a healthy democratic sign. The accused President learned about it at the same time as the rest of the 40 million persons whom she has the responsibility to represent.
As I said, after reading it, my worst suspicions were confirmed. The Buenos Aires Herald newspaper was right: ¨Nothing new¨. But there are other reasons for this as well: false information was “planted” in Nisman’s report. It was almost the same thing I witnessed in the committee that conducted the investigation of the main case. The alleged intelligence agents that Nisman identified as members of a ¨parallel SIDE [Argentine Intelligence Secretariat]” in “direct” contact with the President –i.e. Ramón Allan Héctor Bogado and Héctor Yrimia— were NEVER part of the Intelligence Secretariat, in any capacity. What is more, on 12 November 2014, the Intelligence Secretariat filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Bogado due to the possible commission of the offence of ¨influence peddling¨, as he introduced himself to Customs officials as a member of the intelligence staff. The case is pending before Court No. 9 in Federal Criminal and Correctional Matters for the City of Buenos Aires. As if this were not enough, on 7 August 2013, the Intelligence Secretariat received a letter from Oral Court No. 1 in Criminal Matters relating to a case involving the offence of “blackmail”. The letter asked whether Ramón Allan Bogado worked for that agency and, if so, summoned him to appear in Court and give testimony. All of this was reported to Judge Lijo at his request, since Nisman’s accusation came under the jurisdiction of his Court. These events took place before the current authorities of the Secretariat took office and they were reported to the superiors by the then General Director of Operations, Mr. Antonio Horacio Stiuso, on 10 November 2014. The complaint was filed on the following day.
Here, it is in order to recall the statements made by Prosecutor Nisman on 14 January 2015 on the cable TV programme ¨A dos voces¨ broadcasted by the channel TN (you know who they are). There, in response to a question about Mr. Stiuso: Alfano: “And what did Stiuso do?”, Nisman replies: “Absolutely everything I asked. I often agreed and very many times disagreed with him. Stiuso is an excellent professional. I have no doubts about that, but sometimes Stiuso, like any intelligence worker, would come and say ‘I have this evidence, so-and-so participated in that act” and his explanation when he talked to me was consistent, but the evidence was provided by an informant from the Tri-Border area. I would say ‘Listen, this is an excellent piece of evidence for intelligence purposes, but if I go to court with this, they will send me packing. What should I say? That Mr. Stiuso told me so?’ and this would lead to arguments. I only gave importance, legally, to evidence that could be given judicial validity”. Verbatim quote.
If Stiuso was the one who provided Nisman with all the information he requested and had, there is no doubt that it was Stiuso who told him (or wrote to him?) that Bogado and Yrimia were intelligence agents. Could he have forgotten that he had personally filed a complaint against him in November of last year and that court proceedings had been initiated? And if a man with such a good memory forgot about this, did he not consult with the Human Resources office?
The statements made by the Judge in that case, Mr. Canicoba Corral, become especially important, as he made critical remarks about Mr. Stiuso’s participation and claimed that, instead of cooperating, he ended up directing the investigation. Personally, I believe that he did more than just direct it. The facts speak for themselves.
We should consider then that everything is false; that all the agents are not actually agents; that Interpol, through its former Secretary-General Ronald Noble, destroyed the accusation regarding the red notices by asserting that what Nisman said was false; that trade with Iran is decreasing rather than increasing after the Memorandum; that the grain sellers are neither the President, nor the Foreign Minister, nor the Secretary-General of La Cámpora, but private actors acting without State participation including, among others, the companies Bunge, Cargill, Nidera, Oleaginosa Moreno (controlled by the Swiss company Glencore), Aceitera General Deheza, Molinos Rio de La Plata, Vicentin and even Mr. Jorge Aranda, a top executive of the Clarín group who triangulates sales of rice to Iran through the company Molinos Libres SA —all of which, as you may see, are companies or business persons that cannot be described as being exactly “friends” with the Government, as Clarín likes to dub some persons who do not follow their guidelines or accept their invitations.
Likewise, I should mention that the Government never purchased oil from Iran; and that the alleged Iranian agent Jorge Alejandro Khalil is a business partner of his brother Alberto Amado Edgardo Khalil, who acted as General Director of Legal Affairs of the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires –appointed by the then Vice-Chair of the Legislature, Santiago de Estrada, and the then Administrative Secretary, Oscar Moscariello (currently the Vice-President of the BOCA Jr. football club and one of the leaders of the political party PRO)– who was later granted, by Executive Decree, a general power of attorney for judicial purposes to represent the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, and who resigned from his position as General Director of Legal Affairs 8 days after the indictment and imprisonment of the former Chief of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police Department, Jorge “el fino” Palacios, on charges of illegal telephone tapping against, among others, relatives of the victims of the AMIA bombings.
It is odd that a person who professes the Islamic faith so fervently —which deserves my utmost respect— and who is an unconditional advocate of the Islamic Republic of Iran —which is completely legal in Argentina— would choose to partner with the leaders of a manifestly anti-Iranian political party. Because although you cannot choose your family, you can choose your business partners.
Furthermore, it is striking that Prosecutor Nisman, or whoever assisted him in the investigation, was only interested in listening to Khalil on the phone while he talked to certain specific persons. Anywhere in the world, the first step in a serious anti-terrorist investigation is to determine commercial, financing and other ties.
What is more, if any Judge decides to deepen the investigation on this citizen, apart from listening to his telephone conversations, he or she may find information that is completely unrelated to religion, Iran, and all the other things that seem to appear on the surface. Because in Argentina, as anywhere else, not all is what it seems to be, and vice versa.
In summary, Nisman’s accusation not only falls apart but also constitutes a true political and judicial scandal. And therein lies one of the key factors. Prosecutor Nisman was not aware of the fact that the intelligence agents that he accused as such were actually not agents, let alone that one of them had been accused by Stiuso himself.
He also failed to investigate Mr. Jorge Alejandro Khalil, apart from the telephone conversations provided by Stiuso.
At this stage, the questions that I was asking myself on the 19th are gradually becoming certainties, just as when progress was being made in the AMIA case.
Prosecutor Nisman’s accusation was never, in itself, the true operation against the Government. It was bound to fall apart after the very first steps. Nisman did not know this —he probably never did. The true operation against the Government was the Prosecutor’s death after accusing the President, the Foreign Minister, and the Secretary General of La Cámpora of being accessories to the Iranians accused of the terrorist bombing of AMIA.
The uproar following the accusation —which was still not supported by any evidence or proof and largely fed with false information—, coupled with the international scenario on account of the events that took place in France, was buried by the Prosecutor’s death. Purportedly a suicide —a strategy that has been used in many notorious cases. I want to recall one in particular which I shall come back to later: the case of Lourdes Di Natale, who “committed suicide” by jumping from a balcony.
Prosecutor Nisman was not made to come back only to denounce something which they knew had no grounds and could not be sustained. When journalist Sandra Russo analyzed the case in Página 12 newspaper under the heading “El truco de la confusión” [The trick of confusion], she claimed that: “They wanted to use Nisman alive and now they will use him dead”. But she is wrong. They used him alive and then they needed him dead. As sad and terrible as that.
New questions arise as new information becomes available. Why would Prosecutor Nisman write a message in a chat like the one he wrote to explain to a group of close friends the reason for his sudden return from Paris, and then commit suicide? A message in an almost epic tone, in which he stated that he was coming to fulfill a task “for which he had prepared at length, but which he did not expect to perform so soon”.
“This is a mass message for a small and dear group of friends and acquaintances who don’t follow my activities day by day. It’s merely informative, so please don’t reply to it. I had to suddenly cut short my trip around Europe with my 15-year-old daughter and come back. You can imagine what that means.
But sometimes we don’t get to choose when things will happen in life. They simply happen, and they happen for a reason. What I am about to do now was going to happen anyway. It had been already decided. I have been preparing for this at length, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It’s too long to explain it now. As you know, things just happen, that’s all. That’s life.
The rest is allegorical. Some of you may know what I’m talking about, others may imagine it, and others may have no idea. But SOON everyone will know. I have a lot at stake in this. In fact, everything, I would say. But I always took decisions and today’s not going to be the exception. I do it with conviction. I know it’s not going to be easy —quite the opposite. But sooner rather than later truth will triumph and I am very confident. I will do everything I can and more, no matter whom I have to face.
Thank you all. Justice will be done!
Oh, just in case, let me be clear about this: I haven’t gone crazy or anything. In spite of everything, I’m better than ever!”
Why would he commit suicide after explaining in his chat that he had had this planned for quite some time but had to do it sooner? Could it be that he was made to travel due to the events in France? Or was this intended for the presidential campaign? Or could this have been triggered by the changes made in the Intelligence Secretariat?
Why would he commit suicide if on Saturday at 6.27 pm he had sent a photo to Mr. Wolff, a member of (Jewish community institution) DAIA, showing his desk, with papers and highlighters, remarking that he was getting ready for the Monday meeting in the Lower House of the Argentine Congress? Mr. Wolff himself stated: “I wrote to him to ask who had to lift the reporting restriction with regard to the members of the intelligence services. He replied that the person who had to do that was the Intelligence Secretary, Oscar Parrilli, and he sent me a picture of the desk he was working at”.
Why would he commit suicide if he did not know that the information contained in the report was false? Surely the ones who can give answers are those that convinced him that he had the “accusation of the century” in his hands by providing false information to him.
But in addition, if he had suspected false information or unfounded allegations if this had been written by “others”, why would he commit suicide if he had already been accused by many members of the families of AMIA bombing victims or directly recused by them? What difference would it have made to his life if the report had been unfounded and the competent judge, as is common practice and happens every day, had ruled “duly noted, be it set aside until further evidence is furnished”?
Why would he commit suicide if, as a prosecutor, both he himself and his family enjoyed an excellent quality of life?
But apart from that, why would the Prosecutor borrow a gun to commit suicide if he had two weapons registered in his name in the (Official Firearms Register) RENAR? A Bersa semiautomatic pistol caliber 22 long rifle (similar to the one found next to his body) and a Rossi double action caliber 38 revolver.
No matter where in the world you are, you can only regard it as strange, to say the least, if someone is found killed by a weapon registered in the name of another person and that other person turns out to be the last one that saw the dead person alive, gave him the weapon at the scene of death and is a close assistant specializing in IT that has also worked on the AMIA case since 2007. Very strange. This is why it is particularly advisable to offer ample protection to Daniel Ángel Lagomarsino.
It is also highly advisable to order administrative and other investigations in relation to Prosecutor Nisman’s security detail as soon as possible, i.e. the 10 federal police officers. Did they report the incident to 911 immediately upon discovery or to their superiors?
How can it be explained that a private healthcare plan doctor was allowed access to the place where Prosecutor Nisman’s body was before informing the competent judge, their superiors or the forensic specialists?
These and other questions must be investigated by the judge and prosecutor competent in this case. And yes, I know. Twitter and Facebook posts by the Judge have come to my notice. The comments do not only reflect overt opposition to the Federal Government but I would say they even offend the President, which is particularly serious when considering that the comments are being made by a member of another branch of government. It should also be noted that this same person made comments on the Judiciary itself that were not very felicitous, to put it mildly.
However, what I find most worrying is that this is the same Judge that dealt with the “suicide” case of Lourdes Di Natale, a former secretary of Emir Yoma, who had accused him of paying briberies, as a key figure in the illegal sale of weapons. The case was closed and Lourdes is still officially classified as having died by “suicide”.
It was no coincidence that in the only letter I published on 19 January, before reading Prosecutor Nisman’s accusation, in the second paragraph, and specifically with regard to Prosecutor Nisman’s death, I wrote: “suicide?” (with a question mark).
Today, I have no evidence, but no doubts either. He had to be brought back to the country urgently to make the most of the international commotion caused by the terrorist acts in France. Nisman himself referred to this in his chat when he said that he did not imagine it would be so soon, in reference to what he was coming to do upon his sudden return.
What he could never imagine was that the clock had not only started ticking for the “accusation of the century”, but also for his own life.
Several media outlets have in recent days recalled “suicide” cases that were never solved: that of Brigadier Etchegoyen, who was investigating a drug trafficking case at the Customs Office at the time the Air Force was headed by his fellow serviceman José Antonio Juliá (whose two children were convicted in Spain for drug trafficking), that of Navy Captain Horacio Pedro Estrada, who was charged in the case relating to the illegal sale of weapons, Marcelo Cataneo, who had been accused of paying briberies in the Banco Nación-IBM case, and the case of Lourdes Di Natale herself, whom I mentioned above.
Prosecutor Nisman’s case is, however, different. All the cases mentioned above are related to matters involving corruption and money. The AMIA case is a different story. It is the worst terrorist attack suffered by our country and claimed the lives of 85 Argentines. The victims and their families have been seeking justice for 21 years, and it is precisely the Judiciary, the power that is solely responsible for investigating, accusing, prosecuting and sentencing those responsible for such a tragedy, that can meet that ongoing demand for Truth and Justice.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of the Argentine Republic