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Fernandez says Nisman one of Argentina's 'scoundrels'

An Argentine official has accused a deceased prosecutor of using state money to wine and dine women. The accusation comes two months after Alberto Nisman was found dead before the testimony against the president.

Citing an inquiry into

the prosecutor's death

hours before his testimony against the president, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez said Nisman misappropriated funds. The 51-year-old had been investigating the

1994 bombing of a Jewish center

that killed 85 people and injured 300 before he mysteriously died.

Fernandez said Nisman had entertained women on Argentina's dime and inflated the salary of Diego Lagomarsino, a friend and aide who lent Nisman the gun found next to his body in the early hours of January 19. The Cabinet's head said Lagomarsino, a computer technician, had received 41,000 pesos (4,400 euros/$4,800) a month and gave 20,000 pesos back to Nisman.

"We are among many scoundrels, including Nisman," Fernandez said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Lagomarsino's lawyer, Maximiliano Rusconi, had said that revelations about his client's financial relationship with the prosecutor would show "behavior by Nisman that at the very least was questionable." Without offering details, Rusconi said he believed the government would use the information "to damage Nisman's image."

Officials have suggested Lagomarsino's involvement. However, the lead investigator in the case, does not consider Lagomarsino a suspect. The government has also tried to cast blame on intelligence officials.

The government has closed ranks

around President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during the investigation into Nisman's death. She caught a break last month when a judge said he had found no reason to investigate her alleged involvement in

the Iran cover-up any further

.

'Remember the essence'

Nisman's mother found her son dead days after he accused President Fernandez of helping Iranian officials cover up their roles in the bombing. Fernandez has strongly denied the accusations, but her government has struggled to manage the fallout from Nisman's death.

Two months later, the government has made no arrests, and polls show that Fernandez's popularity has taken a hit eight months before presidential elections. Fernandez, constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term, has yet to designate a top candidate from her party, which currently controls both chambers of Congress.

Dissidents

accuse officials of besmirching the prosecutor's reputation to throw investigators off the scent. At an event to honor Nisman on Wednesday, the journalist Nelson Castro said the prosecutor's death "represents a true institutional assassination." He added that there should be monthly memorials held in Nisman's honor because it "allows one to remember the essence of the case."

mkg/jil (Reuters, EFE, AP)

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