January 21, 2018
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New forensic tests lead to more questions

Police officers seize documents from Nisman’s office in downtown Buenos Aires yesterday.
Police officers seize documents from Nisman’s office in downtown Buenos Aires yesterday.
Police officers seize documents from Nisman’s office in downtown Buenos Aires yesterday.
No traces of gunpowder on Nisman’s hands, but Berni says doctor may have altered scene

Questions surrounding the mysterious death of AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman continued to mount yesterday as forensic analysis on his body confirmed that there were no traces of gunpowder on the investigator’s hands. Viviana Fein, the state prosecutor handling the case, made sure to emphasize that this does not contradict the suicide hypothesis.

Questions also remain about the role of Security Secretary Sergio Berni, one of the first to arrive at the Le Parc building in Puerto Madero, where Nisman was found. During an interview with a local news channel, the Kirchnerite official was unable to explain his exact movements once he entered the prosecutor’s home — and talked about a private doctor who may have altered the scene of the crime.

More tests to be conducted

Yesterday morning, as it became public that there were no traces of gunpowder on Nisman’s hands, Fein said it was not an “unexpected result” and that it should not be seen as a contradiction with the theory “that Nisman fired the gun himself.”

She added that .22 caliber firearms, like the one triggered on Sunday at Nisman’s apartment, “usually do not deliver positive results” for gunpowder traces in forensic analysis.

“When the weapon is fired, since the amount (of gunpowder) for an electronic sweep test is so small, the test may not give a positive result,” Fein stressed.

On Monday, Fein had confirmed that there was no sign of a third-party being involved in the death.

The prosecutor and Judge Emma Palmaghini — who yesterday took over the case from Judge Manuel de Campos — ordered new scientific tests on the pistol. The gun will now be fired by a different person whose hand will undergo the same test as Nisman’s in order to determine whether it leaves gunpowder residue, judicial sources said.

“There are so many tests that can be carried out in this case... We must wait for blood tests (of the blood) found on the gun and on the scene to obtain results,” Fein explained.

The investigator also revealed some new information on the man working at the Attorney General’s AMIA Unit who had lent the weapon to Nisman some time ago.

This man, Fein said, has worked at the Attorney General’s AMI Unit since 2007, “specializing in information technology, a technical section of the office.”

“We have not taken any other weapon from prosecutor Nisman’s home, nor from safes, drawers or any other places they could be appropriately stored. Right now no other weapon has been found or retrieved,” she concluded.

Hours earlier, the prosecutor ordered a raid at Nisman’s offices located on Hipólito Yrigoyen Street in downtown Buenos Aires, while investigators heard testimony from Nisman’s bodyguards, who explained how the Nisman’s body was found on the floor of his bathroom at approximately 1am Monday.

Confusing statements

It was Berni who came out in defence of Federal Police (PFA) agents, confirming the AMIA prosecutor had been provided with 10 security guards for his personal safety.

Some of them worked 24 hours a day, he said.

“These men were completely trustworthy.”

Berni had arrived at the scene before Fein and Judge De Campos — a magistrate who has good relations with the Security secretary.

In a long interview with news channel Todo Noticias (TN), the Kirchnerite official tried to explain his presence at the scene of the crime, saying he did not enter the bathroom “to prevent contaminating the scene.”

“My responsibility... is to be everywhere (because) many times elements from the crime scene go missing,” Berni said.

The Security minister’s number two argued he made sure that “nobody... touched any of the personal belongings” of the prosecutor.

“The first ones to enter (the building) were the mother and the chief of security,” he said.

However, he was unable to explain why no one entered the bathroom once they found out Nisman was inside, blocking the door.

Moreover, the official said a doctor from the Swiss Medical health insurance company had been inside the apartment even before Fein began to lead the investigation. He went as far as to suggest that the forensic reports came out as negative for gunpowder because the doctor may have “touched (Nisman’s) hand.”

A shopping list

Former DAIA Jewish community centre president Jorge Kirszenbaum argued the family of the special prosecutor had ruled out the suicide hypothesis and that a note had been found at the apartment — a note which may support their scepticism.

This alleged note was left for the maid working in Nisman’s apartment “regarding some grocery purchase for Monday,” Kirszenbaum said.

According to the former DAIA president, this could explain why “neither the mother, nor any relative would dare to even consider the suicide hypothesis.”

Berni, however, said he had not seen any message of that kind while at Nisman’s apartment.

Herald staff with DyN, online media

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