Lifestyle of late Argentine prosecutor Nisman stokes new scandal

BUENOS AIRES, (Reuters) – The Argentine prosecutor found dead after accusing the president of whitewashing a deadly 1994 bombing embezzled state funds to take prostitutes on lavish vacations, the government said yesterday, deepening the scandal over his death early this year.

Alberto Nisman
Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman, found dead two months ago after accusing President Cristina Fernandez of trying to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish community center, is as much at the center of controversy now as when he was alive.

A former assistant told investigators this week that he had to kick back about half his salary to Nisman in order to keep his job.

Yesterday, Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez told reporters Nisman was a “scoundrel” who used government funds to pay for hookers, booze and trips to the beach instead of using it to find out who planted the truck bomb that killed 85 people at the AMIA Jewish center 21 years ago.

“He was given a lot of money to clarify the AMIA case and he spent it on young women and ñoquis (Argentine slang for an employee who gets paid without working),” Anibal Fernandez said during a regular question-and-answer session.

“This licentious lifestyle was very costly. Who paid for this troupe of workers who did not work?” the Cabinet chief said. “Like when he went to Cancun with a secretary ñoquis and a known prostitute? His salary could not have covered all that.”

The opposition said the government was trying to smear Nisman to distract people from the mystery over his death.

“A state prosecutor died two months ago, and here we are fighting over whether he had one or two girlfriends, when we still don’t even know how he died,” said Congressman Sergio Massa, a presidential hopeful.

An aide to Nisman, Diego Lagomarsino, has told prosecutors that he kicked back about half his 41,000-peso ($4,660) monthly salary to the prosecutor. Lagomarsino lent Nisman the gun used to kill him in his Buenos Aires apartment.

In mid-January, Nisman alleged President Fernandez had tried to cover up the bombing to clinch a grains-for-oil deal with Tehran.

Four days later, Nisman was found with a bullet in his head and a pistol by his side.

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