Israeli and Jewish leaders on Friday marked the fourth anniversary of Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s murder by unveiling a memorial plaque in his honour at the Ben Shemen forest in central Israel.
Nisman’s body was discovered in the early morning of Jan. 19, 2015 — hours before he was due to unveil a complaint against the former government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over its alleged collusion with Iran in effectively exonerating the Islamic Republic of responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded.
Nisman had been investigating the AMIA atrocity since 2005, with his efforts resulting in the global law enforcement agency Interpol issuing six “red notices” in 2007 for the Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives believed to have planned the attack.
Cristina Fernandez’ government falsely maintained that Nisman’s assassination was a suicide until an independent police investigation in May 2017 established beyond doubt that the prosecutor had been murdered. More recent efforts within Argentina to bring Cristina Fernandez, who is now a senator, to trial over both the alleged AMIA cover-up with Iran and Nisman’s murder have so far failed.
Friday’s ceremony in honor of Nisman was led by Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of the Israeli Knesset. Edelstein recited the kaddish memorial prayer and then planted an olive tree beside the memorial plaque, which is located in the forest’s “Argentina-Israel Friendship Park.”
Also present was Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel, who was warmly applauded when she disclosed, “In some way, I needed this tribute to continue living.”
The current president of AMIA, Augustin Zbar, was quoted saying that Friday’s tribute would help “internationalize the demand for justice both for the murder of Alberto Nisman and for the AMIA case.”
Said Zbar: We are convinced that the two are directly linked, so anything that helps to draw the world’s attention to the death of Nisman will also lead to the clarification of the facts that link Iran and Hezbollah with the AMIA terrorist attack.”
Zbar repeated his demand that the accused Iranian operatives stand trial for the bombing in an Argentine court.
Earlier this week. Garfunkel met in Jerusalem with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who lauded her late son as a “hero.”
In an interview with Spanish-language Jewish news agency AJN prior to the meeting with Rivlin, Garfunkel said that even though four years had passed since Nisman’s murder, “now it’s more difficult for me, these last three months were very difficult for me.”
Garfunkel also spoke about the pain that the initial claim that Nisman’s death was a suicide caused her. “For me they killed him, period,” she said. “I knew that the first moment, and I didn’t care what others said, I knew they killed him.”
Asked for her views on Cristina Fernandez alleged involvement in Nisman’s murder, Garfunkel demurred. “I prefer not to talk about politics,” she said.'
Last December Argentine federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, ex-wife of Alberto Nisman, removed herself from a lawsuit that prompted an investigation into the death of her former husband. Nisman and Arroyo Salgado have two daughters, Iara and Kala.
In a written statement that Arroyo Salgado presented to her colleague, Federal Judge Julian Ercolini, who is overseeing the investigation into Nisman’s death, mentions ongoing “threats.”
She made the decision out of the “need to guarantee the protection and safety of the family,” she wrote in her request on Friday to be dropped from the lawsuit.
In the role of plaintiff, Arroyo Salgado was able to read reports of the investigation, suggest new measures, present written requests to the judge, and offer testimony. With her removal from the lawsuit, Arroyo Salgado and her daughters will have no [art in the investigation. The remaining complainant is Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel, who will continue in her active role.
Arroyo Salgado was a main booster of the investigation. In March 2015 she called a news conference and said publicly that the late AMIA terrorist bombing case prosecutor was murdered. “He didn’t commit suicide. They murdered him,” she said.
Ercolini, the federal judge leading the investigation into the case, in a 656-page ruling one year ago said the gunshot that killed Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman “was not a suicide, and was brought about by a third party.”