The game of interests surrounding the investigation of Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman death escalated on Tuesday when police raided the home of the deceased's mother, and cabinet chief Anibal Fernández accused Nisman's former wife of putting 'obstacles' into the probe and suggesting insurance claims could be involved in her actions.
According to reports in Buenos Aires media, the Homicides division of the Federal Police raided the home of Sara Garfunkel, mother late AMIA lead investigator Nisman, located in the neighborhood of Belgrano. Officers belonging to the division spent two hours at the address, where they searched a safe in the apartment and also storage units in the building's basement.
Sources close to the investigation said that police were searching for a firearm registered in the name of Nisman, who was found dead on January 18 in the bathroom of his Puerto Madero home. In Nisman's apartment another weapon was found, belonging to computer technician and AMIA Unit employee Diego Lagomarsino.
Lagomarsino told investigators that Nisman had asked him for the .22 caliber pistol the day before he died, explaining that despite his security detail he feared for his safety.
The procedure was carried out minutes after Garfunkel testified before prosecutor Viviana Fein, in charge of the investigation into Nisman's death, spending a total of four hours in her offices. Garfunkel declined to speak with the press in either her entry or exit from the building.
Nisman's mother, alongside one of his security, was the first person to enter the Le Parc home on January 18, after hearing nothing from her son for several hours. Since then she has presented a total of three medical certificates excusing her from testimony in front of Fein, before finally giving evidence on Tuesday.
The prosecutor asked Garfunkel if she had taken any objects from the safety deposit boxes shared with her son, as it was rumored that Nisman there kept documents related to his accusation against the government. After Garfunkel's testimony, judge Fabiana Palmaghini ordered the raid by request of prosecutor Fein.
Meanwhile Argentine cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez accused the former wife of Nisman, Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado of 'putting obstacles' to the investigation looking for some argument that leads to consider the death a homicide.
Arroyo Salgado has not ceased to present demands that only delay the possibilities to determine the real cause of the prosecutor Nisman's death, said Fernandez, who added she is looking for some argument in the probe that gives foot to say that it all has to do with a homicide.
This brings us back to the insurance, insurances that benefit third parties; I would be surprised that prosecutor Nisman, feeling threatened did not have a life insurance continued Fernandez in a clear attack on Arroyo Salgado, who with her two daughters are the plaintiff in the death case.
It all points to force the probe as homicide, which would then open a huge demand against the Argentine State for having failed in protecting the prosecutor.
In related news the Federal Appeals Court accepted prosecutor Germán Moldes' appeal against a previous ruling which had dismissed late prosecutor Nisman's complaint. Before his mysterious death back in January, AMIA special prosecutor had requested to investigate president Cristina Fernández and other top government officials for the alleged cover up of Iran's involvement in the 1994 deadly terrorist attack against the Jewish community centre.
Judicial sources said that after the Federal Court's decision, the Criminal Cassation Court must now determine whether to investigate Nisman's complaint.
A date for the Appeals Court to take the file to Cassations, where it would be assigned to one of the tribunal's chambers, is yet to be fixed. Once the chamber is assigned, it would be the decision of the presiding judge to determine whether to uphold or reject Nisman's accusation.
Prosecutor Moldes had complained about a supposed delaying mechanism in order for Cassation prosecutor Javier De Luca to take over the case. De Luca is a member of the Legitimate Justice group, aligned with the government. Richard Wechsler is currently the prosecutor in control at the higher court, but the shift will change on Thursday with De Luca taking over.
The Court represents the last opportunity to convert Nisman's criminal complaint into a formal case, after the accusation was dismissed in two previous instances. The Appeals Court voted beforehand to uphold the ruling of judge Daniel Rafecas, who had deemed that the accusation did not demonstrate any evidence of a crime being committed.