A report compiled by Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman before his death documented secret negotiations between Iranian and Argentine governments over a deal that sought to shield Iranian officials from charges vis-à-vis the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
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Nisman, the lead investigator into the car bombing that claimed the lives of 85 people at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, was expected to present the 289-page report to the Argentine Congress on Monday. He was found dead in his apartment on Sunday night.
According to The New York Times, the document contains transcripts from phone calls, evidently intercepted by Argentine intelligence officials, that reveal an elaborate effort to protect eight Iranians, including former senior officials, from prosecution. The deal would open a lucrative trade in Argentine grains and meat for Iranian oil. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman were the ones to seek the deal.
But the agreement never came through as Argentine officials failed to get Interpol to lift the arrest warrants issued for the Iranian officials.
The Argentine government said on Wednesday that Nisman was misled to believe there was a conspiracy to whitewash the crime.
"They sold him on a connection that did not exist," said Anibal Fernandez, President Fernandez's chief of staff.
Nisman was found dead just a few days after accusing Fernandez of trying to hamper his probe. A .22-caliber pistol was found at his side and Nisman appears to have committed suicide, but many of the details of the case are unclear and allegations of foul play have surged.
Lead prosecutor Viviana Fein said there was no evidence of anyone else involved in the death, but said Nisman left no suicide note. A test of his hand showed no residue of gunpowder, though she said that may have been due to the small caliber of the gun. The fact that national Security Secretary Sergio Berni quickly turned up in the apartment also fed doubts.
Moreover, the locksmith who opened the back door to give investigators access to the home where Nisman was found dead said it was barely closed, raising questions about whether a killer might have entered or exited what was earlier described as a 13th-story apartment locked from the inside.
After testifying to investigators, the man who gave his name only as Walter said he was able to quickly open the door with a hook. He added, "If someone entered or not, I don't know."
The official news agency Telam, meanwhile, said investigators had found a third access to the home, a narrow passage holding air conditioning equipment that connects to a neighboring apartment occupied by an unidentified foreigner. They were investigating a seemingly recent footprint and fingerprint found inside.
Reuters contributed to the report