-- Argentina's president today called for an investigation into the "very strange" alleged "suicide" of a top prosecutor who was investigating Iran's role in a terrorist attack in Argentina in 1994.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's statement was a reversal that came amid intense public pressure. Kirchner has been under fire amid widespread speculation that prosecutor Alberto Nisman did not, as she had initially speculated, fatally shoot himself hours before testifying before lawmakers that his probe had been blocked by Kirchner's office.
"The suicide (I’m convinced) was not suicide," Kirchner said in a lengthy statement posted on her website Thursday.
Nisman, 51, had been digging for a decade into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. That attack, as well as another in 1992 that killed 29 people, has been widely blamed on Iranian agents. In 2007, Interpol issued Red Notices on five Iranian operatives and one Hezbollah militant suspected in the 1994 attack.
Nisman was set to testify at a hearing Monday in which he was expected to discuss his allegation that phone intercepts had revealed a deal the Kirchner government had cut with Iran to stymie the 1994 bombing probe. Many Argentines were outraged by his death and voiced suspicions about Kirchner.
She initially posted a statement on her Facebook page that asked why Nisman would decide to take his own life. But today, she reversed herself and admitted that the circumstances of his death were "very strange" and "need to be investigated."
Kirchner also questioned why he allegedly shot himself on Sunday with a borrowed .22-caliber long gun and not one of the handguns he personally owned.
National security officials in Washington immediately questioned the official narrative of a suicide by Nisman, known for being combative but dogged in fixing blame for the bombing and holding those responsible accountable on behalf of Argentines.
"It looks very suspicious, obviously," said a former senior federal law enforcement official in Washington, who has been involved in past investigations of the Argentina bombings and Iran's role.