Latin America & Caribbean

Alberto Nisman: Argentine prosecutor 'feared guards'

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Media captionWyre Davies in Buenos Aires reports on a "case of espionage and international conspiracies"

Senior Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in unexplained circumstances, borrowed a gun because he did not trust the police protecting him, a colleague has said.

Diego Lagomarsino lent him a gun the day before he was found shot dead.

Mr Nisman was about to testify about alleged attempts to cover up Iranian involvement in a bombing in 1994.

Prosecutors have yet to establish if he committed suicide or was killed. He will be buried on Thursday.

Mr Nisman had been due to appear in Congress to publicly accuse President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of being behind an attempt to hide the alleged involvement of Iranian suspects in the Jewish centre bombing, which killed 85 people.

He was found dead in his apartment on 18 January.

On Wednesday, Mr Nisman was mourned at a private wake. He will be buried on Thursday at a Jewish cemetery in La Tablada, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.


At the scene: Wyre Davies, BBC News, Argentina

After the body of Alberto Nisman was finally released to his family, it was taken to a funeral home where a steady stream of friends and former colleagues arrived to pay their last respects.

But when a courier delivered two huge wreaths, with messages of condolences from government departments, including the Ministry of Justice, angry campaigners tore at the flowers, ripping and stamping on the ribbons.

It was a clear example of the intrigue and anger provoked by this case. Many Argentines do not trust their much discredited institutions to ever solve the Nisman case or find the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing.

More than a week after his body was found in his luxury apartment, new details have emerged which, in some ways, shed new light on the case but, in other ways, confuse matters even further.


Old gun

Mr Lagomarsino, a computer specialist and long-time acquaintance of Mr Nisman, lent him the gun that killed him.

He told a news conference that Mr Nisman had told him he "feared for the safety of his daughters".

"I told him, 'Look this (gun) is old, it's an old weapon... I don't know if you will be able to protect yourself with it'.

"He said to me, 'Don't worry, it's to have in the glove box just in case a crazy person with a stick comes up and says I am a traitor'."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Diego Lagomarsino was the last person to see Alberto Nisman alive

Mr Lagomarsino, the last person to see Mr Nisman alive, said he showed him how to load and unload the gun, but the prosecutor had assured him he would not use it.

But he added that Mr Nisman had told him: "I don't even trust my security detail."

Mr Lagomarsino has been charged with giving a firearm to someone who was not the registered owner - the only person to be charged in the case so far.

Guards suspended

Mr Nisman's security chief has been suspended and is under investigation along with two other members of his guard.

Ruben Benitez had co-ordinated a security team of 10 officers to protect Mr Nisman.

Police say the team broke with protocol by remaining out of contact with Mr Nisman for several hours on the day of his death and failing to report to their superiors.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The death of Alberto Nisman has led to protests in the capital Buenos Aires

In a national address on Monday and in two letters, President Fernandez accused former intelligence agents of manipulating Mr Nisman to bring charges against her.

She suggested he was killed to increase the damage to her.

On Monday she announced plans to disband Argentina's intelligence services and replace them with a new agency.

Investigators have said they believe Mr Nisman committed suicide, but have classified his death as suspicious because they could not rule out murder or an "induced suicide".

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