Latin America & Caribbean

Jewish centre bombing: Argentine prosecutor Nisman found dead

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Media captionA weapon was found next to Mr Nisman's body, but the circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery, the BBC's Ignacio de los Reyes says

An Argentine federal prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner last week of a cover-up has been found shot dead at his home in the capital, Buenos Aires.

Alberto Nisman was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died.

On Wednesday, he accused the president of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran's alleged role in the bombing.

The president's spokesman dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous".

'No burglary'

Mr Nisman, 51, was found dead by his mother in the bathroom of his home.

Investigating prosecutor Viviana Fein said he had been shot once. She said an autopsy was under way and its results would be made public later on Monday.

Ms Fein ruled out burglary as a motive. "It [the apartment] was in perfect condition, there was no mess, nothing was missing," she said.

She also said that no suicide note had been found in the flat.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police and forensic experts have been searching the apartment of Mr Nisman

Earlier, the Security Ministry released a statement saying that Mr Nisman's bodyguards had raised the alarm after he failed to answer their phone calls on Sunday.

Concerned about his welfare, they fetched Mr Nisman's mother and tried to enter his apartment, the statement said.

They found the door locked from the inside with a key still stuck inside.

After a locksmith gained access, they found Mr Nisman's body in the bathroom.

According to the statement, a gun and a cartridge shell were found next to his body.

Key hearing

Mr Nisman was due to give evidence at a congressional committee hearing on Monday to outline his accusations against President Fernandez and other officials.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Eighty-five people died in the 1994 bombing

He had published a 300-page report on Wednesday alleging that the president and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had opened a secret back channel to Iranians suspected of involvement in the bombing of the community centre.

Mr Nisman alleged that the scheme was intended to clear the Iranian suspects in order to facilitate a trade deal between Iran and Argentina.

He said that he had issued a request that a judge question the president and the foreign minister "for being authors and accomplices of an aggravated cover-up and obstruction of justice regarding the Iranians accused of the Amia [Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association] terrorist attack".

The car bombing of the seven-storey building was the worst terrorist attack in Argentina's history.

In 2007, Argentine prosecutors accused Iran of planning and financing the attack, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of carrying it out.

Iran dismissed the allegations as "baseless".

So far, no-one has been convicted in connection with the Amia attack.

Last July, at events marking the 20th anniversary of the bombing, Pope Francis demanded justice for the victims.

In a recorded video to mark the anniversary, the Pope described the attack as an "act of madness".

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