The lead investigator in the mysterious death of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had accused Argentina's president of wrongdoing, came under sharp criticism on Monday with a video showing police experts working without latex gloves at the apartment where the body was found last January.
Ernesto Duronto, vice president of Argentina's association of forensic experts, said many irregularities are seen in the video, which was shot by federal police and obtained by Canal 13 and aired in the program Journalism for All, (PPT), directed by Jorge Lanata.
The video shows how things should not be done, Duronto said, saying it was paramount for forensic investigators to preserve the cleanliness of a crime scene.
The four-hour video, according to the PPT journalists, shows how investigators arrived on the scene at 2 a.m. on Monday, January 19, and proceeded to commit multiple serious breaches of forensic investigation procedure. To begin with, explains PPT presenter Lanata, the number of people present in the apartment was like “Tokyo at two in the afternoon.”
Police proceeded to handle objects within the prosecutor’s strongbox without latex gloves, which they also neglected to wear when taking fingerprints from one of the doors. Moreover, the video shows that forensic investigators failed to take several items for analysis, including clearly visible samples of hair.
One of the most contentious mistakes centers around the pistol that was apparently used to kill Nisman. The investigator who picks up the weapon decides to clean it with toilet paper — from the very bathroom where Nisman’s body is lying — so the person filming can record its model and serial number.
Also calling the attention of the PPT analysts was the fact that the video featured cuts and clear signs of editing. Normally, they explained, these kind of videos should be filmed without any subsequent alteration.
In another blunder, overseeing prosecutor Viviana Fein can be seen to tread on the blood in the bathroom.
State Security Secretary Sergio Berni, one of the first to arrive at the presumed crime scene, asks the prosecutor – sometime after she has arrived – if she can verify whether Nisman is dying.
Lead prosecutor Fein defended her investigation. She acknowledged what the video captured but said it had no impact on the case.
The crime scene was not contaminated. It was diligently preserved, Fein told Vorterix radio station.
Fein said police cleaned only part of the pistol to read the serial number and that would not have eliminated a criminal's fingerprints.
Nisman was found dead in a pool of blood in his apartment Jan. 18. The next day, he was scheduled to elaborate to Congress on his allegations that President Cristina Fernandez had orchestrated a secret deal to cover up the alleged role of Iranian officials in the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which killed 84 people and left 300 injured.
Fernandez rejected the allegations and a federal judge threw out the case in February.
The fact is that more than four months since Nisman's death, no suspects have been arrested and Fein has said authorities are not sure whether Nisman was killed or committed suicide.