Nicaragua continues to prosecute and imprison opponents of Ortega | Political news

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Dozens of political opponents of the left-wing leader are accused of treason and undermining national security.

Nicaragua sentenced seven other opposition figures, including three former presidential candidates, to terms of up to 13 years in prison, a humanitarian organization said.

Courts in the Central American country ruled by former leftist rebel President Daniel Ortega have convicted 33 of the 46 opposition figures arrested in the months leading up to last year’s elections. Of those found guilty, 25 received long prison sentences.

Economist Juan Chamorro and political scientist Felix Maradiaga were sentenced to 13 years in prison, while former ambassador Arturo Cruz was sentenced to nine years in prison, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights announced on Twitter on Thursday. (CENIDH).

All three had planned to run in the November elections before their arrest. They were found guilty of endangering national security after being accused of treason by the government for allegedly supporting foreign sanctions against Ortega and his entourage.

Thousands of people fled into exile after Nicaraguan security forces violently suppressed anti-government protests in 2018. Ortega says the protests were in fact a coup attempt with foreign support, and many of those who are tried were accused of working with foreign powers for his overthrow or encouraging foreign nations to impose sanctions on his family members and his government.

Former foreign minister José Pallais and ex-president of the business owners’ union, José Aguerri, were sentenced to 13 years in prison, while activists Violeta Granera and Tamara Davila each received a eight-year sentence.

They were all arrested for alleged violations of a controversial law that critics say was intended to silence Ortega’s opponents.

Aged 76, he has been in power since 2007. He won the November elections, widely described as a farce by the international community, with 75% of the vote.

All serious potential presidential challengers had been imprisoned or fled into exile.

Cristiana Chamorro, a former Nicaraguan presidential candidate, and one of her brothers were among five people officially tried on Thursday.

Chamorro, 68, has been under house arrest since June 2. She was taken under heavy guard to the notorious El Chipote prison in the capital, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.

Chamorro, his brother Pedro Joaquín Chamorro and three former employees of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation will face trial for money laundering and other alleged crimes. The foundation provided funds for the training of journalists and the defense of freedom of expression.

It was one of the first in a wave of detentions against opposition leaders, including seven potential presidential candidates, to pave the way for Ortega’s re-election to a fourth consecutive term on November 7.

Chamorro claimed his innocence. She is the daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who ruled from 1990 to 1997.

Opposition MP Victor Hugo Tinoco, of the Sandinista Renewal Movement, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” [File: Esteban Felix/AP Photo]

Ortega’s government has opposed a number of non-governmental organizations which it considers opposition. The president claimed the organizations receiving funding from abroad were part of a larger plot to impeach him in 2018.

A series of recent trials of opposition figures have taken place in El Chipote prison. The defendants were only allowed to have their lawyers present.

The trials “were full of violations of law and violations of rights and due process, and therefore they are null and void trials, which delivered void sentences,” the Civic Alliance said in a statement. a statement.

Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, called the trials a “farce”.

“As for the charges against them, there are non-existent crimes. In this sense, the government will never be able to prove these absurd accusations,” Núñez said.

Given the notoriously poor conditions at El Chipote and the age of some of the opposition leaders, relatives fear the sentences could effectively be death sentences.

Hugo Torres, a former Sandinista rebel leader who once led a raid that helped free then-rebel Ortega from prison, has died awaiting trial. He was 73 years old.

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