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Buenos Aires City Appeals Court likely to back Palmaghini

Tribunal will have to decide if Nisman case has to be investigated by federal judges

Alberto Nisman - Argentine prosecutor Nisman during a meeting with journalists in Buenos Aires
The investigation into the mysterious death of former AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman will go into the hands of the magistrates who form part of the Sixth Division of the Buenos Aires City Appeals Court this week and they will likely back Judge Fabiana Palmaghini’s decision to send the case to a federal court.

The lawyer representing IT expert Diego Lagomarsino will be filing an appeal request tomorrow to prevent the case from reaching the Comodoro Py courthouse after Palmaghini decided on Tuesday to declare herself unfit to continue presiding over the case.

Prosecutor Viviana Fein has already expressed her objections to Palmaghini’s decision, but will not appeal the resolution as she is fully aware that her superior, Ricardo Sáenz, will not back her request. Sáenz — one of the organizers of the silent demonstration to honour Nisman — has already said in a writ that he believed his colleague had been murdered days after accusing then-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of seeking to whitewash the alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre.

The Sixth Division of the BA City Appeals Court is made up of Judges Rodolfo Pociello Argerich, Marcelo Lucini and Mario Filozof, a key ally of the magistrate who has been in charge of Nisman case since January, 2015.
A long-term friendship

Palmaghini was not in the country when Nisman was found dead of a gunshot to his head in his apartment in the BA City neighbourhood of Puerto Madero on the night of January 18, 2015.

She returned to the country from Brazil after talking to Filozof — who said she should take charge of the probe. On January 21, 2015, she met with Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti, who expressed his support and made it clear that he would keep an eye on the case that jolted the country.

Days ago, Lorenzetti told Spanish daily El País that impunity reigns in the Nisman case and Palmaghini decided to backpedal on the decision made on February 12, when she said there were no grounds to send the case to the Comodoro Py central courthouse. With a tinge of irony, Palmaghini also noted in that resolution that her federal colleagues had failed to investigate the threats reported by Nisman and his ex-wife, San Isidro Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado.

Palmaghini worked as one of the judicial secretaries of Filozof’s court. Last year, he even suggested excusing himself from participating in the probe as he had been a friend of Palmaghini for several decades. However, his colleagues considered that he should not be separated from the probe.

Stiuso’s role

Filozof is said to have ties to former Intelligence Secretariat (SI) Operations chief Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso, who last week appeared before Palmaghini. Less than seven hours after the former spymaster left the central courthouse on Talcahuano street, Palmaghini decided to send the case to a federal court. She must have made that decision after considering the issue with Filozof, sources speculated.

In conversation with the Herald on Friday, Fein said that she was removed as the lead investigator while she was probing the role that intelligence officials had on January 18, 2015, when her colleague was found in a pool of blood.

She wanted to interrogate Fernando Pocino, a former Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) top official along with former Army chief César Milani and Juan Martín Mena, the AFI’s number two during the last year of Kirchnerite rule.

According to information provided by the Bank Fraud Department of the Federal Police (PFA), those phone calls were not usual and they did not continue on January 19, 2015, when Nisman had already been found dead of a gunshot to the head inside the bathroom of his apartment in the City neighbourhood of Puerto Madero.

Página/12 columnist Horacio Verbitsky yesterday revealed that Filozof, in fact, had a copy of the testimony delivered by Stiuso on Monday that was kept under lock and key at Palmaghini’s chamber. According to sources, Filozof has been receiving an update of the file every day.

The judge also has close ties to the DAIA Jewish community organization that has suggested Nisman was murdered.

This story was first published at Buenos Aires Herald 


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