An Argentine prosecutor working on an explosive investigation of government intrigue and conspiracy wound up dead in his Buenos Aires home hours before presenting his case to that nation’s Congress. Now it seems the case Alberto Nisman spent years pursuing may never have its day in court.
That would be only the latest in a long line of related tragedies.
Last Tuesday, a federal judge formally closed the investigation Mr. Nisman had led, after another prosecutor declined to proceed with charges. In his allegation, Mr. Nisman claimed that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner conspired to cover up the Iranian government’s involvement in a 1994 terrorist bombing that killed 85 people at a Buenos Aires Jewish community center in exchange for a trade deal.
Mr. Nisman prepared hundreds of pages of evidence to support his allegations, but was found dead before he could present the findings.
Officials initially ruled his death a suicide, but the suspicious timing caused many — including, eventually, Mrs. Kirchner — to question whether foul play may have been involved. Recent opinion polls show that more than 70 percent of Argentinians believe Mr. Nisman was murdered.
Forensic investigations into the cause of death produced contradictory findings, and a forthcoming final report appears unlikely to offer any conclusive answers.
Indeed, the troubling uncertainty over his death should be in itself reason to publicly air the information Mr. Nisman compiled against Mrs. Kirchner and her administration.
And there has been no shortage of further intrigue since Mr. Nisman died in January. Mrs. Kirchner, on her personal blog, has speculated that Mr. Nisman was assassinated by her political enemies, in order to frame her administration. She later questioned whether Israeli organizations or a controversial New York investment firm might have been part of a conspiracy against her administration in a ridiculous, rambling post entitled “Everything has to do with everything.”
Officials investigating Mr. Nisman’s death have accused his mother, who discovered his body, of tampering with evidence before police arrived at the scene. And one of the most outspoken judges pushing to discredit the suicide theory is Mr. Nisman’s estranged wife.
But beyond the blend of soap opera theatrics and political thriller accusations lies a very serious concern that must be addressed: The Jewish center bombing remains unsolved. The victims of that terrorist attack and their families deserve justice.
If evidence shows that high-level Iranian officials worked with Hezbollah to plan and carry out the attack, as Mr. Nisman alleged, it would be of particularly damaging significance in light of ongoing international negotiations over that nation’s nuclear ambitions.
And if Mrs. Kirchner indeed conspired to bury evidence of Iran’s involvement, it would constitute not just an unforgivable political black eye, but an international criminal offense as well.
Perhaps there really isn’t enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
But the severity of Mr. Nisman’s charges demands far more than the dismissive attitude with which his case was shelved last week.