Confronted with a deepening scandal, the president of Argentina abruptly reversed herself on Thursday, saying that the death of a prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center was not a suicide as she and other government officials had asserted.
The change of position by the president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, added a major new twist into the death of the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in his luxury apartment in Buenos Aires late Sunday of a gunshot wound to the head.
Mr. Nisman has long accused Iran of planning and financing theattack, which left 85 people dead. But this month he intensified his claims, accusing Mrs. Kirchner and top aides of trying to subvert his 10-year investigation into the bombing — allegations that the government has flatly rejected.
Using intercepted phone transcripts, Mr. Nisman asserted that the government had pursued a secret deal with Iran to exchange Iranian oil for Argentine grains — and to shield Iranian officials from charges that they had orchestrated the bombing.
John Fund had more on the story on the Corner earlier this week. The Times reported last night that there are tapes confirming Nisman’s allegations — that the Argentine government wanted to kill a terror investigation, including Interpol work, so they could boost trade relations with Iran — seem to be accurate.
If the story needed to get weirder, Kirchner’s position is now that it’s Nisman’s allies who had him killed. In the statement where she alleged it wasn’t suicide, she wrote, “They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead.”
Elliott Abrams notes on his CFR blog that there’s little hope for a remotely fair investigation of what really happened here, such is the sad state of Argentina and Latin-American institutions.