Judge takes over stalled investigation into death of AMIA prosecutor


BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — An Argentine judge has taken over the investigation into the unresolved death of AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Judge Fabiana Palmaghini on Thursday removed the case from the hands of prosecutor Viviana Fein, who had put the investigation on hold after Nisman’s mother and former wife requested that the case be sent to a federal court to be investigated as an assassination.

Palmaghini will resolve the dispute between Nisman’s relatives, who believe Nisman was murdered, and the prosecutor, who was also investigating the possibility that the death was a suicide.

The judge has suspended a January month-long court recess and requested more than 40 new steps in the investigation, including the questioning of former Intelligence Secretariat Chief Operations Office Antonio “Jaime” Stiusso, who worked closely with Nisman and who is believed to be in United States, and Israeli-Argentinean journalist Damian Pachter, who first reported Nisman’s death and has fled to Israel following threats to his safety.

The judge also requested an examination of all the computers used by Nisman and new analyses of the late prosecutor’s apartment, where he was found dead.

Although Palmaghini will lead the investigation, Fein will remain as prosecutor and can ask the judge to take other steps.

Nisman was found dead in his apartment on Jan. 18 with a gunshot wound to the head. Fein has not yet released a final ruling on the cause of death.

“I cannot determine for the moment whether it was a suicide or a homicide,” she said earlier this year, when she convened the authors of the independent forensic report to examine their evidence.

In July, a U.S. forensic pathologist said he believes that Nisman likely was murdered.

Nisman’s body was found hours before he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.

Some analysts believe the shift is related to the change of power in Argentinean government. Mauricio Macri, who assumed the presidency of Argentina earlier this month, voided the agreement with Iran to jointly investigate the bombing in his first week in office. Macri said during the election campaign that the investigations into Nisman’s death and the AMIA bombing must be advanced to find the truth.

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