February 10, 2015 / 3:03 PM / 3 years ago

New DNA evidence found in home of dead Argentine prosecutor

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Forensic experts have found DNA evidence of a second person in the apartment where an Argentine prosecutor was found dead last month after he accused the president of whitewashing a deadly 1994 bombing.

Investigators hope the new DNA sample will shed light on a case that has spawned conspiracy theories involving President Cristina Fernandez, rogue intelligence agents and a group of Iranians accused by the Argentine courts of bombing the AMIA Jewish community center 21 years ago.

The body of prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found in his bathroom on Jan. 18, a bullet in his head and a pistol by his side. He had been scheduled to bring a case to Congress the next day accusing Fernandez of trying to derail the criminal investigation into the bombing that killed 85 people.

Until Tuesday there had been no evidence of anyone else in Nisman’s Buenos Aires apartment. The judge in the case filed court papers saying a sample “corresponding to a genetic profile different from Nisman‘s” had been found.

People who visited Nisman in the days before his death will be called to give DNA samples, said judge Fabiana Palmaghini.

The president’s chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, who is not related to the two-term head of state, told reporters on Tuesday that everything pointed to Nisman having taken his own life. But messages from the government have been contradictory, leaving Argentines scratching their heads over the prosecutor’s death.

Gustavo Lopez, an undersecretary in the presidency, said on Monday the mysterious death was part of “an attempted coup d‘etat, that aims to get rid of the president.”

Nisman showed no signs of being suicidal, friends said. To the contrary, they said he was ready to go to Congress on Jan. 19 to present his case that Fernandez conspired to clear the suspects in the bombing as a way of getting access to Iranian oil needed to help close Argentina’s $7 billion per year energy deficit.

The government dismissed the accusation as ridiculous. Fernandez will leave office at the end of the year, barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term.

The next big step in the investigation is expected to be testimony by former Argentine master spy Antonio Stiusso, who was fired by the president in December. Chief of Staff Fernandez says Stiusso manipulated Nisman into leveling the conspiracy accusation against the president in reprisal for his firing.

Additional reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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