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Court Cases

Prosecutors pursue Nisman's Iran case against Fernandez

Prosecutors have appealed a judge's decision to throw out an investigation into Argentina's president. A now-dead prosecutor had accused Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of conspiring with Iran to cover up a terror attack.

On Wednesday, prosecutors appealed a judge's dismissal of their charges against Argentina's president. Found dead on January 18, hours before he intended to testify against Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Alberto Nisman accused the president of protecting Iranians implicated in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, which killed 85 people and wounded 300.

The appeal filed by Gerardo Pollicita sends the case to the Federal Chamber of judges, which can uphold or reject last week's decision by Daniel Rafecas. In his sharply worded ruling last week, the federal judge selected to pick up Nisman's baton in investigating the case had said "there is not a single element of evidence, even circumstantial, that points to the head of state."

Nisman accused Iran of ordering the attack through Lebanese Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah. He also accused Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other officials of protecting Iranians, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in exchange for oil and other trade benefits.

"Faced with a premature ruling, there must be a new analysis of the evidence in the case and a broad review of the decision," Pollicita wrote in the appeal, filed Wednesday.

'Any other explanation'?

Termed out this year, Fernandez has struggled to confront a growing scandal on two fronts: Nisman's case against her and the investigation into his mysterious death. According to polls, many Argentines believe she had a hand in the prosecutor's death, initially - and rather rapidly - called a suicide by officials. Amid other explanations, the president has suggested that disgruntled former intelligence agents had manipulated the prosecutor and killed him to smear her.

Both cases have implications for the ruling party's chances in October. The government took out ads in several local newspapers Wednesday accusing Nisman of trying to do away with the Fernandez regime.

"Is it possible to think of any other explanation than seeking to create political instability?" the ad read.

Fernandez has sacked the top officials at the Intelligence Secretariat, and a bill she introduced to disband the country's spy agency passed the legislature last week. The new law replaces the secretariat with a body called the Federal Intelligence Agency and puts the solicitor general, who answers to Fernandez, in charge of the office responsible for carrying out telephone wiretaps. Nisman had based his accusations against Fernandez on hundreds of hours of wiretaps.

Despite coming under fire from the public, Fernandez has received support from Argentina's political elite.

mkg/lw (EFE, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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