Are these Argentines still “Nisman”? They might not want to be anymore, if the latest news on the sensational case of the maybe-murdered-maybe-suicided prosecutor has any bearing on the matter:
Some 400,000 people marched in Buenos Aires less than two months ago, on February 18, under the slogan “We Are All Nisman”, paying tribute to the Argentine prosecutor who turned up dead with a bullet in the head a day before he was to appear in Congress to explain his denunciation against Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. However, Nisman went from hero to pariah as his ex-wife, Sandra Arroyo Salgado, and the prosecutor on the case, Viviana Fein, fought one-on-one in the courts to try to put their theories before the judge: Arroyo is convinced that it was a murder, and Fein is not ruling out suicide. The ex-wife accuses the much-criticized prosecutor of “lacking objectivity and neutrality”, and the judge must decide how to proceed with a case that will not advance.
This face-off between Arroyo and Fein before the judge on the case comes amid a powerful campaign on the part of the government itself against Nisman. The prosecutor’s image has sunk since photos appeared of him with women much younger. The photos were on his cellphone and the judge is investigating the police for leaking them. But above all, what has sunk Nisman is that it is known that he had a secret bank account in New York which he shared with the computer expert who gave him the gun [that killed him], Diego Lagomarsino. This tells that he gave half his salary — publicly — to Nisman.
The circle is complete, such that a prosecutor is now trying to impute Nisman’s mother, his sister, and Lagomarsino for tax evasion and money laundering by way of that account. Thus the denouncers have become the denounced. The prosecutor could not accuse Nisman because he died, but his mother and sister, yes. In Buenos Aires there are also placards with the photo of Nisman with women at a party, and the question: “Are we all Nisman?” Lest there be doubts of the government’s position, the chief of Kirchner’s cabinet, Aníbal Fernández, was very clear: “Nisman dedicated public funds to going out with women and paying ‘ñoquis’ (functionaries who are paid and do nothing, via Lagomarsino). A shameless man as few have seen in this land.” At the time, in some neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, there were placards in favor of Nisman and his denunciation against the president.
Argentine judicial sources believe that the case will become complicated because many mistakes were made in the first hours after the killing, when the investigators arrived, and that will make it much more difficult to know the truth. Any investigation is marred by the decisions of the prosecutor and the movements of the police in those first hours, they said.
The government’s offensive is not only against Nisman, but above all against Antonio Stiusso, who until December was the most powerful spy in Argentina and directly linked to Nisman, who tried to talk with him shortly before his death. President Kirchner believes that he was the brains behind the prosecutor’s denunciation against her. Stiusso faces charges of money laundering and has fled Argentina to evade imprisonment. On Monday, he was summoned to the government seat, the Casa Rosada, for a type of political trial. He didn’t show up, and now he will face not only the government, but the judicial machinery for his dark dealings. Stiusso was very close to the Kirchners, and no he is Public Enemy Number One, as Óscar Parrilli, current chief of the secret services, made clear last week: “Lamentably, for 30 years, democracy coexisted with this man. From 1983 onward, nothing got done, and this man was acquiring more and more power, and no one was able to stop him.”
The latest episode in the government’s offensive against Stiusso and Nisman came late Tuesday afternoon, Argentine time. Parrilli, the Argentine spy chief, held a press conference at the Casa Rosada to announce that the government had formally charged Stiusso with violation of his duties as a public functionary, and for hiding from his agency the activities he carried out, in connection with Nisman, in the case of the bombing of the AMIA (a Jewish-Argentine association centre) in 1994, the origin of the denunciation. Parrilli accused Stiusso and Nisman of not having done their work well. “In 20 years of investigation, no suspects have been found. Nisman and Stiusso’s work has produced no results,” Parrilli said.
If that’s not an indictment of the sorry state of Argentina’s fragile democracy, it’s certainly an indictment of the miserable state of law and justice there. It’s been over thirty years since the military junta fell, and in that time, corruptos have flourished in an atmosphere of near-total impunity. Opportunists like Stiusso and Nisman are dime a dozen in Argentina; what sets these two apart is the high offices they held, and the sheer chutzpah they exhibited in their abuse thereof. Nisman, for example, even sought to blame the president herself for an alleged cover-up of the AMIA bombing, deflecting the world’s eyes from the most likely culprit: not Iran, but Israel.
The Shin Bet and the Mossad are well known for their dirty tricks, and they are not above killing their own people — or Jews from other countries, such as Argentina. Nor has it been any great secret that Israel’s government would love to see Iran branded a sponsor of terrorism, and sanctioned accordingly all over the world. So far, they’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful at it.
And with incompetent corruptos like Nisman and Stiusso as their primary local agents, it’s hardly any wonder at all. Israel’s spook agencies are starting to look just as stupid as their US counterparts.
Maybe they’d like to pick up the clue-phone. Or should I say, the shoe-phone?