Argentine lawmaker accuses president of cover-up

Buenos Aires (AFP) - An Argentine opposition lawmaker filed a court case Friday against President Cristina Kirchner, accusing her of a cover-up in the mysterious death of a prosecutor investigating a 1994 Jewish center bombing.

Congresswoman Elisa Carrio accused Kirchner, attorney general Alejandra Gils Carbo, army chief Cesar Milani and other officials of obstructing the investigation into the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Nisman was found in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head on January 18, on the eve of a Congressional hearing at which he was expected to accuse the president of shielding Iranian officials from prosecution over the bombing.

Kirchner, whose government is struggling to downplay suspicion of involvement in his death, has suggested Nisman was manipulated by disgruntled former intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her.

"The president puts forth her claims about the murder of a prosecutor without filing a formal complaint in accordance with the constitution," Carrio wrote in a document filed with prosecutor Viviana Fein, who is leading the investigation into her late colleague's death.

Kirchner aide Anibal Fernandez accused Carrio, a center-right politician who was defeated by Kirchner in the 2007 presidential election, of "stirring up anxiety" and trying to protect powerful former spy Antonio "Jaime" Stiuso, whom the president has said was feeding information to Nisman.

Carrio "is as dirty as a potato because she's Stiuso's friend," said Fernandez.

Stiuso has become a central figure in the case since Fein summoned him for questioning Thursday.

The ex-spy failed to turn up, and was instead represented by his lawyer.

Intelligence agents were dispatched to several of Stiuso's declared residences to bring him in but were unable to find him, said Intelligence Secretariat director Oscar Parrilli.

"In some of the places, they told us they didn't even know him," said Parrilli, who was appointed spy chief in December as part of Kirchner's efforts to overhaul the intelligence services.

Stiuso's lawyer has said he does not know if his client is in Argentina.

The South American country's prosecutors have meanwhile called a march of silence for February 18 -- one month from Nisman's death -- in tribute to their late colleague and to demand their independence be respected.

"This macabre death should mobilize us to wake up to the fact that Nisman was the first case but might not be the last," said prosecutor Carlos Stornelli.

Nisman had accused Iran of ordering the bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, which killed 85 people and wounded 300, via Lebanon-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Four days before he was found dead, he filed a 300-page report accusing Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of trying to shield high-ranking Iranian officials from prosecution in exchange for oil.