Nicaraguan dissident imprisoned under Ortega dies in custody

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Former guerrilla fighter Hugo Torres Jimenez, one of 46 opponents imprisoned since last year by the Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega, died on Saturday, his family said in a statement.

He was 73 years old.

The statement offered few details about Torres’ death but expressed his children’s “deep grief at the death of our beloved father”. It was published by the opposition Blue and White National Unity (UNAB) coalition, of which Torres was a member.

A former Sandinista dissident, Torres had been detained since June 13, 2021 in El Chipote prison, before being transferred in December to a hospital for treatment, sources said.

Torres had been vice-president of the opposition Union for Democratic Renovation (Unamos), formerly the Sandinista Renovation Movement, created in 1995 by activists dissatisfied with Ortega’s leadership.

A retired army general, Torres in 1974 undertook a risky operation to free a group of imprisoned politicians – including Ortega – held under the Somoza dictatorship.

But Ortega, who himself has become increasingly dictatorial as president and head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, has accused dozens of opposition figures of conspiring against his government with US backing. United.

Torres was hailed as a “hero” on Saturday by exiled ex-guerrilla and Sandinista dissident Monica Baltodano.

She told the 100% Noticias news site that Torres was “a true hero of the struggles against the dictatorships that dominated Nicaragua – the Somoza dictatorship and now the Ortega dictatorship, which is a brutal and criminal dictatorship.”

Unamos in January reported that Torres’ health was deteriorating and asked the government for details. He offered none.

The Washington-based Organization of American States said it “considers the keeping of political prisoners, terminally ill and without necessary medical assistance, as an abominable act”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that for months Torres was “deprived of his liberty in inhumane conditions and subjected to judicial proceedings without any safeguards”.

Torres was one of 46 opposition figures detained last year, most ahead of November elections in which Ortega was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term. Of the 46, seven had planned to show up against Ortega.

All were accused of undermining national integrity and promoting foreign interference in Nicaragua.

Eighteen have been convicted in the past two weeks and seven have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from eight to 13 years.

(AFP)

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