Who killed Alberto Nisman?

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Alberto Nisman committed suicide at his Buenos Aires apartment on Sunday. Within Argentina, however, this circumstantial evidence has been treated with substantial skepticism. The New York Times conveys the suspicions in an article by Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero: “Puzzling death of a prosecutor grips Argentina.”

Christopher Dickey’s Daily Beast article puts Nisman’s death in the context of the ongoing war between Israel and Iran. Next to the Times article, Dickey’s is a mediocre piece of work. Tom Joscelyn is the man to read on this aspect of the affair; Joscelyn’s Weekly Standard dispatch is here.

The AP article on Nisman’s death provides a good summary of the circumstantial evidence in “Officials: Argentine prosecutor died in locked apartment.” The AP reports:

Argentina’s government said Monday that a prosecutor who had accused President Cristina Fernandez of shielding Iranian suspects in the nation’s deadliest terror attack died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his locked apartment, a declaration sure to be closely scrutinized.

Alberto Nisman, who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, was found in the bathroom of his apartment late Sunday, hours before he was to testify in a Congressional hearing about the case.

Investigating prosecutor Viviana Fein said the preliminary autopsy found “no intervention” of others in Nisman’s death. However, Fein said she would not rule out the possibility that Nisman was “induced” to suicide, adding that the gun was not his.

“The firearm belonged to a collaborator of Nisman” who had given it to the prosecutor, Fein told Todo Noticias television channel.

According to the autopsy, Nisman had a bullet entry-wound on the right side of his head but there was no exit wound. His body was found inside the bathroom and blocking the door, and there were no signs of forced entry or robbery in the apartment, Fein said.

The findings left more questions than answers about the death, which came only five days after Nisman accused Fernandez and other officials of reaching a deal with Iran that shielded some officials from possible punishment for the attack.

Nisman was guarded by police because he had received threats. Late Sunday, agents alerted their superiors that he wasn’t answering phone calls, according to the Security Ministry statement. Authorities called Nisman’s mother and when she wasn’t able to open the door because a key was in the lock on the other side, a locksmith was called, the ministry said. A .22 caliber handgun and a shell casing were found next to Nisman’s body.

Monday afternoon, the presidency ordered the declassification of the names of the agents that Nisman had demanded as part of his probe, apparently an attempt by the administration to show transparency and avoid any accusations of wrongdoing….

The AP suggests that none of the ten security officers assigned to protect Nisman was stationed on the thirteenth floor of the apartment building on which he lived.

Nisman died on the eve of the testimony he was to give against Argentine authorities for seeking to shut down his investigation into Iranian responsibility for the horrific 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center building that killed 83. The AP report mentions this angle as well:

Congresswoman Cornelia Schmidt-Liermann, interviewed before the preliminary autopsy finding, said she had planned to pick Nisman up Monday at his residence and accompany him for his testimony.

“Everybody who had contact with him the last 24 hours says he was confident” about his testimony, she told The Associated Press. “There is no indication, under any circumstances, that he killed himself.”

Schmidt-Liermann said Congress met Monday afternoon despite Nisman’s absence, and many members signed a declaration urging a full investigation into Nisman’s death and insisting that the investigation continue.

Schmidt-Liermann and others who knew Nisman said he lived under constant threats on his life from Iranian agents and pressure from the Argentine government.

The long AP report is worth reading in its entirety. It is simply too soon to draw conclusions with respect to Nisman’s deeply troubling death.

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