Video has been released showing investigators collecting evidence from the apartment of an Argentine prosecutor who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in January. And what that video shows is causing concern.
Alberto Nisman was found dead just hours before he was set to testify to lawmakers on evidence he said he had linking top Argentine leaders, including President Cristina Fernandez, to a cover up of Iran’s suspected role in the 1994 car bombing of the Argentine Jewish Charities Federation building in which 85 were killed.
If you noticed that police in the video are handling evidence without gloves, tracking blood with their shoes to clean parts of the floor and wiping blood from a pistol, then you're correct.
The video which was taken by federal police and broadcast Sunday on the investigative program Periodismo Para Todos showed a woman removing items from Nisman’s safe without latex gloves, investigators walking around the apartment without protective shoe covers, and another investigator wiping blood off of the gun. The Associated Press noted that the investigator wiped down the gun with toilet paper hanging in the bathroom where Nisman was found.
After emptying out the dead prosecutor’s safe, a woman is seen in the video taking the extra step to wipe her fingers throughout the surface of the safe as if to make sure she didn’t miss any items and in the process further contaminating the crime scene.
In excerpts posted online, Viviana Fein, the lead prosecutor investigating Nisman’s death, is also seen holding Nisman’s belongings with her bare hands.
Here’s how PanAm Post described the 4-hour video:
Police proceeded to handle objects within the prosecutor’s strongbox without latex gloves, which they also neglected to wear when taking fingerprints from one of the doors. Moreover, the video shows that forensic investigators failed to take several items for analysis, including clearly visible samples of hair.
One of the most contentious mistakes centers around the pistol that was apparently used to kill Nisman. The investigator who picks up the weapon decides to clean it with toilet paper — from the very bathroom where Nisman’s body is lying — so the person filming can record its model and serial number.
The AP quoted Ernesto Duronto, vice president of Argentina's association of forensic experts, who said the video "shows how things should not be done."
The television show which aired the excerpts noted that the raw footage appeared to have been edited, which is unusual for police crime scene videos.
Multiple guides to investigating crime scenes found online emphasize the importance of handling evidence with gloves to avoid contamination.
But Fein, the lead prosecutor investigating the death, told Vorterix radio, "The crime scene was not contaminated. It was diligently preserved."
Fein said that only part of the pistol had been wiped down in order to reveal the serial number. Her assertion that this action would not have wiped off a criminal’s fingerprints was met with skepticism by Duronto who said wiping the gun could smudge prints, the AP reported.
After months of investigation, no suspects have been arrested, and authorities have not said conclusively if Nisman was killed or committed suicide.
Those who knew Nisman dismissed the suicide allegation. His good friend Gustavo Perednik told the Times of Israel in January that he believed the suicide claim was “rubbish” and “lies.”