When a prosecutor says he/she is going to testify before congress about a massive government cover up, that tends to be a pretty big deal. When that same person ends up dead, the night before he was supposed to testify, it becomes world news.
Alberto Nisman was an Argentine prosecutor who was planning to testify this week that the Argentine government planned a cover up of the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. The accusations go all the way to the top, implicating President Cristina Kirchner in the scandal.
In a criminal complaint filed last week, Nisman alleged that Kirchner and the Argentine government orchestrated a cover up of Iran’s role in planning and carrying out the bombing, in exchange for Iranian oil. Nisman accused the Argentine government of numerous actions; among them were the attempted transferring of nuclear research to the Iranians, and arms deals. Furthermore, he said he had 330 discs of recorded phone conversations during which Argentine negotiators called Nisman a “dirty Jew” in their conversations with Iran.
But Nisman never made it to congress to testify to these accusations. In a twist that feels straight out of a House of Cards episode, Nisman was found dead in his bathroom of a gunshot wound on the night before his testimony – and just days after having told newspaper Clarín “I could wind up dead because of this.” The authorities quickly ruled his death a suicide, though journalists and the Argentine public have reacted with profound skepticism, shock, and anger.
Many in Argentina are accusing the government of murdering Nisman – accusations which intensified after the first forensic results in the case were released Tuesday, and found no gunpowder residue on Nisman’s hands.
The inevitable protests occurred in Buenos Aires shortly after news of his death broke while others took to social media to voice their opinions which ranged from the clueless to accusatory to anxious:
Encontraron al fiscal Alberto Nisman en el baño de su casa de Puerto Madero sobre un charco de sangre. No respiraba. Los médicos están allí.
— Damian Pachter (@damianpachter) January 19, 2015
— Ernesto Londoño (@londonoe) January 19, 2015
"Further fueling suspicions is Argentina’s recent history of suspicious deaths officially described as suicides.” http://t.co/gcR4Ta7DQQ
— David Frum (@davidfrum) January 20, 2015
"Que nadie entre al baño". pic.twitter.com/fr1FGq7Y1s
— Javier Smaldone (cuenta de archivo) (@mis2centavos2) January 20, 2015
— María Julia Oliván (@mjolivan) January 20, 2015
Even a parody Frank Underwood account chimed in:
@.CFKArgentina, if you don't mind, I'm working this side of the street.
— Frank Underwood (@Frank_Underwood) January 20, 2015
President Kirchner’s response:
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) January 19, 2015
We’ll be watching the story as it unfolds, so stay tuned.